“At the end of the year, you have to stick together,” he said, “and have faith in each other and have hope and trust in each other . . . the intangibles. The intangibles won the game [Monday]. We’re going back to the Garden.”
St. Mary’s girls learn
After losing to Arlington Catholic in the Division 1 state final last March, 3-1, the St. Mary’s of Lynn girls went through a transition period. The Spartans graduated just two seniors, but lost a total of seven players from their roster, through transfers to prep school programs or to their public high schools.
As a result, St. Mary’s has five eighth-graders on the varsity roster.
In the first five games of the season, the Spartans faced a gantlet: Notre Dame of Hingham, two-time defending Division 2 champion Duxbury, Division 1 power Woburn, defending Division 1 champ Arlington Catholic, and Hingham, but emerged with a 2-2-1 mark.
Then St. Mary’s ripped off an 11-game unbeaten streak.
“It kind of really highlighted what we needed to work on,” said coach Frank Pagliuca . “But it gave kids that may have not played last year or were new to the program confidence. They were able to see what it would take to compete at that level.”
St. Mary’s defeated Arlington Catholic early on, but the Cougars were the ones to snap the Spartans’ 10-0-1 midseason stretch. After that Feb. 6 blemish, St. Mary’s finished 4-0-2 before defeating Austin Prep and Woburn to return to the championship game.
“Our philosophy has been that this is a different team,” said Pagliuca. “Our initial goal was just to get back into the state tourney in the first place. That said, you learn from past experience and I think the returning girls learned some lessons. We’re looking forward to Sunday.”
Pat Bradley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.