READING/WILMINGTON – Heading into his senior season with the Austin Prep Hockey team, Andrew Macdonald knew he had some big shoes to fill. After playing sporadically over the past two seasons, the Wilmington native had the unenviable task of replacing another Wilmington native, two-time Catholic Conference League All-Star and reigning CCL MVP Robbie Farrell, between the pipes for the Cougars.
Stepping into a pressure packed position like goalie for one of the historically great hockey programs in the state of Massachusetts would be tough regardless of the circumstances, but doing so while replacing a talent like Farrell could have been too much for some net minders to handle. But that was certainly not the case for Macdonald.
Not only did Macdonald make a smooth transition from backup to starter, he exceeded all expectations, winning a CCL MVP trophy of his own, while leading the Cougars to the league title and a trip to the state tournament.
The accolades for Macdonald did not end when the season ended, rather they kept pouring in, as he was named to both the Boston Globe and Boston Herald All-Scholastic teams in recognition of his great season which saw him post a 7-2-1 record within the CCL, with a 1.89 overall Goals Against Average and a .926 save percentage.
Macdonald had obviously hoped and planned for success heading into his senior year, but he could not have imagined it going as well as it ultimately did.
“I was completely blown away, especially seeing how well Robbie had done the past couple of years,” Macdonald said. “I was pretty nervous at the beginning of the year with such big shoes to fill, but the coaches pulled me aside and told me not to worry about it and just rely on my teammates. That kind of confidence really helped me.”
The confidence boost clearly showed for Macdonald as the season went on, particularly in league play, where he allowed just ten goals in ten games on his way to winning MVP honors. Five of those goals came in a season opening loss to Archbishop Williams, and nine came in the Cougars first four league games. Down the stretch he nearly impenetrable, allowing just one goal over the Cougars last six league contests. Overall, he posted six shutouts in league play.
“We knew he would be good, but he exceeded all expectations,” Austin Prep coach Bill Pappas said. “We could not have asked for a better season from him. He had some big shoes to fill with Robbie leaving and he filled them. He was stepping into a very hard position, and he stepped up. I was just so proud of him and so happy for him.”
Macdonald of course was thrilled with his individual success and all of the accolades that came with it, but he was far happier with the overall success of his team, and was quick to point out that his teammates were a very big reason for his success.
“We had great team chemistry and I think that was a big reason for our success,” Macdonald said. “Everything from driving to practice together to sharing inside jokes and having our Friday night pasta parties are things that I will never forget. Those are the moments that I wish we had more of.”
Macdonald was especially impressed with the way his team came together despite the wide variance in age throughout the roster. Despite having only four seniors on the team, to go along with four eighth graders and three freshmen, the Wildcats quickly became a close knit team both on and off the ice.
“I have never been on a team that was so close, whether it was the seniors or the eighth graders,” Macdonald said. “We didn’t know how it would work with four eighth graders on the team, but they fit in right away. You would never know this was their first tine playing varsity.”
Macdonald was especially grateful to have gone through his Austin Prep career with his three fellow seniors, forwards Chris Roy of Tewksbury and Nolan Ricci of Wilmington, along with defenseman Will Lawson of Wilmington. He also considers himself fortunate to have been a teammate of Farrell’s.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to go through everything with,” Macdonald said. “And Robbie was a big role model for me these last couple of years. I learned a lot from seeing how he did things and the way he ran the team, communicating with other players, and I tried to do the same.”
In addition to all of his accolades for his skill between the pipes, Macdonald was also honored with the Hobey Baker High School Character Award, which recognizes a high school hockey player for his or her coachability, strength of character, integrity, commitment, teamwork, community leadership and outstanding sportsmanship.
According to Pappas, Macdonald is a very well deserved recipient of the award.
“He is a nice boy, just a great kid,” Pappas said. “He has a lot going for him, and has a great future. He is one of my favorites and I am just so proud of him, and so happy for him. I am truly going to miss him, and so will the team.”
As great as Macdonald’s hockey season was, he was looking forward to similar success this spring as a member of the Cougars track team, where he competes in the 100-meter dash, 110 hurdles, 400 hurdles, high jump, long jump and triple jump.
He was especially looking forward to a full season of competing in the 100-meter dash. He took part in the event for the first time in the Cougars last regular season meet of the season last year, and stunned everyone, including himself, with a time of 11.8 seconds. One week later at the CCL League Meet, he took fourth place with a time of 11.6 seconds.
Add to that a leap of 18 feet in his final meet of the season in the long jump, and Macdonald had plenty to look forward to this season, but like so many other spring athletes, he saw his dreams come to an end with the cancellation of the spring season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Macdonald still hopes to compete in track in college, possibly at Merrimack College, but missing out on his senior year in high school and the opportunity to lower his time even more to impress college coaches has certainly made that dream more difficult.
“After ending the season on that note, I was really looking forward to seeing what I could do,” Macdonald said. “It was also pretty disappointing just because last year we had so many other kids on the team as well who started to realize their potential, we were really looking forward to seeing what we could do. So, it is a huge let down, but there is nothing we can really do about it. I just wish we had one more season together.”