LOWELL – While the season didn’t end quite the way the Shawsheen/Tech Bedford Girls Hockey team would have liked there is no denying that the Rams made tremendous strides this season, finishing with a 4-5 record after suffering a 6-2 loss to Latin Academy this past Saturday afternoon at Janas Arena.
The final score of Saturday’s season finale was not indicative of how close the game actually was, as the Rams trailed only 3-2 early in the second period before the game got away from them later in the period, and they suffered their third consecutive defeat. The Rams had actually defeated Latin twice earlier this season, but it was not to be this time around.
“I thought both teams played well and we were very evenly matched,” Shawsheen coach Bob Roach said. “It is difficult to try and beat a team three times in one season. They came out a little stronger this time and they had a different goalie this time. They just outplayed us this time.”
Latin got off to a fast start in this one, taking a 1-0 lead just over two minutes into the game. But the game remained close for most of the rest of the period, and it actually looked like the teams would go to the first intermission with Latin holding their slim one goal lead.
But that all changed in the final two minutes of the period, with Latin extending their lead to 2-0 with 1:58 left in the period and then 3-0 with a crushing goal with just 11.4 seconds left in the period on a shot from a very bad angle.
But if the Rams were indeed crushed by the late Latin goal, they certainly did not show it, as they came out strong in the second half, with senior captain Emily Sartori of Wilmington getting the Rams on the board, converting on a breakaway with 10:03 left in the second period to make the score 3-1.
Moments later the Rams kept the momentum going, when freshman Laney Mead scored just 22 seconds later on a great individual effort, flying up the right side and then beating the goalie on a nifty backhand out front to make it 3-2.
It looked like the Rams were right back in the game, but Latin quickly seized the momentum back, making it 4-2 with 7:18 left in the period, and then once again scoring a couple of late goals, this time with two in the final 2:30 of the period to make it 6-2 at the end of the second.
“When you get behind a couple of goals like we did, it is tough to come back,” Roach said. “I thought we did a nice job coming back early in the second, but once they made it 4-2 that really kind of changed everything.”
While the finale did not go as planned, it would be hard to complain about the overall results of the season for the Rams. After winning a total of three games over the past two seasons, and struggling for several years to win more than a couple of games per year, this season was a huge step in the right direction for what is still a very young team.
“With all of the craziness of this season, I felt like this was a very good year for us,” Roach said. “We played a lot teams we wouldn’t normally play and that was a lot of fun for the girls. For example, we never would have played St. Mary’s (a 6-1 loss) because they are always one of the better teams in Division One, but playing them was kind of eye opening and even though we lost, we kind of enjoyed that game just to see how we matches up with them. I think that will help us going forward.”
And speaking of going forward, the future seems exceedingly bright for the Rams. While losing three-year captain and leader Sartori will undoubtedly hurt, the Rams return every other player from their roster, including star freshman defenseman Laney Mead, along with goalies Kaitlin Sacco and Elianna Munroe, who are in eighth and ninth grade, respectively.
Eighth grade forward Isabella King as well as freshman defenseman Paige Fuller of Wilmington and junior forward Ashley Talbot Tewksbury will also return to the fold, providing Roach with plenty of optimism heading into next season.
“Our outlook is very positive,” Roach said. “This was the first year we have ever had where we had two goalies who had both played goalie their whole life and they are both very good. Everybody except Emily comes back, and while we will definitely miss her, hopefully we will also get some new players as well.”
It was an extremely short season for the Shawsheen Tech Co-Ed swim team, as the Rams had only four meets, each of which was held virtually, with each team competing in their home pool under the supervision of officials.
The season may not have been ideal, but the Rams certainly made the most of it, going 2-2 in their four meets, and wrapping up their season in impressive style this past week, picking up an 81-69 win over Greater Lowell in their season finale last Thursday.
The Rams got several outstanding performances on the day, with none better than senior Damien Hadden of Tewksbury, who placed first in three events, with the highlight coming in the 100-yard backstroke, where he shattered the school record in the event, touching the wall first in a time of 59.66 seconds. The record had previously been shared by Nigel Dallaire ’98 and Ryan Phelan ’16, but it now belongs to Hadden all by himself.
That wasn’t the only outstanding effort of the day for Hadden, who also was part of first place finishes in both the 200-yard medley relay in a time of 1:54.24, as well as the 400-yard freestyle relay in a time of 4:16.84.
Both relay teams were dominant, with the foursome of Hadden, junior Kevin Stevens of Wilmington, senior Derek Costello of Wilmington and senior Aidan Singh taking the 200 medley relay. The first place 400 freestyle relay featured the foursome of Hadden, Costello, Connor Maguire and senior Tyler Newhouse of Wilmington.
Hadden was not alone in his efforts to lead the Rams to victory, with Singh picking up three first place finishes. In addition to the 200 relay, he also earned first place finishes in both the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 2:08.22, as well as the 500-yard freestyle in a time of 6:06.79.
Stevens was also outstanding in more than just the relays, as in addition to his first place finish in the 200 medley relay, he also took first place on his own in the 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 1:20.78. Costello, meanwhile followed up his first place finish in the relay with a first place finish in the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 1:00.45.
Kacey McFadden had an outstanding all around day for the Rams, with three second place finishes, taking second in the 200-yard medley relay as well as the 200-yard freestyle relay. She also did pretty well on her own in the 200-yard individual medley.
McFadden was joined on the second place 200 medley relay team by Daniel Penney, Newhouse and Magure, and was joined in the 200 freestyle relay by Jacqui Megna, Newhouse and Lee Singer. Penney had a great day of his own in addition to his success in the relay, taking first in the 100-yard freestyle in a time of 1:03.16 and second in the 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 1:24.19.
Junior Tyler Kopacz of Tewksbury made his mark at the meet, with a first place finish in the 50-yard freestyle in a time of 27.60 seconds, while also grabbing a second place finish in the 100-yard backstroke in a time of 1:08.56.