WOBURN — It took pretty much the entire 45 minutes, but the Winchester High girls hockey team will get to play another 45 minutes.
With three third-period goals, including an empty-net goal with nine seconds remaining, the Sachems defeated Archbishop Williams of Braintree, 4-1 in an MIAA Division 2 state preliminary round game on Wednesday at the O’Brien Rink.
Winchester, the 16th seed, improved to 9-6-7 and will play top-seeded Walpole in the round of 16 (date, time and place TBA). Archbishop Williams, the 17th seed, finished the season at 10-9-2.
“It was a good effort and if you don’t have a good effort in the playoffs, you go home,” said Winchester coach Craig Seabury. “Archbishop Williams plays in the Catholic Central League. Anytime you can beat a team from that league, I’ll take it.”
The score was tied heading into the third period. At 3:19 of the third, sophomore Niki Micciche put in a rebound from just outside the crease, giving the Sachems the lead.
Just after the midway point of the third, Amelia Lynch scored with an assist from Katie Cronin to put Winchester in front, 3-1.
“We just continued to work hard,” Seabury said. “We put a lot of pressure on their defense and finally got to the net.”
With 2:20 remaining, Winchester’s Hayley Costello went to the box for interference, just the second penalty of the game. Archbishop Williams called timeout and pulled its goalie, Allison Delmonte, for a sixth skater, giving the Bishops a 6-on-4 advantage.
Sachem goalie Amy Scali made five saves in the final two minutes (19 total in the game), allowing Winchester to hold on to the two-goal lead.
With nine seconds remaining, Winchester’s Issy Brissette found the empty net with a shot from the Winchester blue line to put the game out of reach.
Winchester never trailed in the game, taking the early lead at 4:10 of the first period when Cronin scored from the point. Lynch assisted. Both Lynch and Cronin finished with a goal and two assists.
Archbishop Williams tied the score at 9:27 of the first. Nicole Hersey stole the puck in the neutral zone and skated down the left side of the ice before putting the puck into the left side of the goal.
There was no scoring in the second period, though Winchester had one of the better chances with a shot going off the crossbar in the final minute.
This is the fifth straight year Winchester has won at least one postseason game and the second straight year in which the Sachems will play the top seed in the second game of the tournament. Last year, Winchester faced Wellesley in the second game, bowing to the Raiders, 3-2 before they went on to win the state title.
Like Wellesley, Walpole also plays in the Bay State Conference. The Rebels are 16-3-1.
“It’s a strong, experienced team with a lot of senior leadership,” Seabury said. “They don’t have one big scorer but they do have three solid lines. They’re a pretty physical team.”