Even though Kaleigh Finigan played sports for Austin Prep the past four years, she was well known to St. Mary’s athletes.
Finigan had been the leading scorer for the Austin Prep girls hockey team, and as a key player for the AP softball team, she competed against St. Mary’s in two Division 3 North finals in the State Tournament.
Finigan, a 16-year-old junior, transferred to St. Mary’s this year and the versatile forward is making an immediate impact on her new team. Finigan scored two goals and had an assist to help St. Mary’s defeat Archbishop Williams 4-2 Saturday night at Connery Rink.
“Kaleigh played really well,” said St. Mary’s coach Frank Pagliuca. “This was probably her best game and that’s a good sign. When she’s moving her feet and she’s engaged, she’s a very effective player for us. She’s come in to our program and worked very hard and improved every day in practice. I remember her well from her career at Austin Prep. It’s good to have her on our team.”
Finigan is one of St. Mary’s leading scorers while skating on a line with Alison Butler and Brittany Lanzilli. Lanzilli is one of the Lady Spartans who knows all about Finigan’s athletic prowess. Earning the nicknames Thunder and Lightning, Finigan and Lanzilli led Medford Youth Hockey to a state championship.
Finigan also played in the Medford Mites program alongside current St. Mary’s boys hockey player Andrew DiMaiti, son of Principal Carl DiMaiti.
“Kaleigh is an outstanding player and I’ve known her since she was six years old,” said Mr. DiMaiti. “She was a teammate of my son’s in Medford Youth Hockey. It was a tough decision for Kaleigh to transfer but I really think this is the school where she fits in perfectly – and wait to you see her play softball.”
The 16-year-old Finigan said it was a difficult decision to transfer after her sophomore year, but she’s happy with her choice.
“Though I had a very good experience at Austin Prep, I just thought St. Mary’s was the right choice for me academically and athletically,” said Finigan.
The talented two-sport standout said her new teammates have been friendly and welcoming.
“Since coming to St. Mary’s, the girls have all been welcoming and they knew me from when I played against them,” said Finigan. “I knew Gabrielle Cugnale from the Medford U-16 team and I also knew Rachel and Amanda Donahoe from the Middlesex Islanders. And I played hockey with Brittani Lanzilli in Medford.”
Finigan said the team is starting to gel after a couple of tough early-season losses. “We’re really playing our hardest now and it’s showing on the ice,” said Finigan. “I think we’re starting to build some momentum. I know they’ve won three state championships here and I’d like to help the school win another one. I think Woburn and Hingham are going to be the toughest opponents in the tournament but I think if we play hard, we can win.”
Finigan said she has known St. Mary’s softball coach Colleen Newbury since the seventh grade and she’s looking forward to competing for the team this spring. Finigan is a terrific infielder but could be a candidate for the starting catching position.
Laurie Finigan, Kaleigh’s mother, said her daughter is very happy to be attending St. Mary’s High School and competing in the hockey program.
“Kaleigh liked being at Austin Prep but it was an opportunity for her to change and she’s doing great,” said Finigan, whose son, Tyler, graduated from Austin Prep and now attends Merrimack. “The team has welcomed her and that speaks highly of the St. Mary’s girls. The coach [Frank Pagliuca] has welcomed her and she’s learning new things in hockey.”