St. Mary’s wins the Division 1 state title; Norden scores winning goal in third OT

The St. Mary’s High School girls hockey was on the verge of a state championship when Notre Dame Academy’s Emma Burke scored off a faceoff in the Spartans’ end with 7.3 seconds left in regulation Sunday at the TD Garden.

But in a display of resiliency and fortitude that characterized head coach Frank Pagliuca’s team all season, the Spartans regrouped and proceeded to battle into the third overtime, thanks to some miraculous goaltending by super-clutch senior Gianna Tringale.

Freshman Alyssa Norden broke the deadlock in that third overtime with the winning goal, her second of the game, giving No. 2-seed St. Mary’s a 5-4 victory over No. 1-seed Notre Dame Academy of Hingham and the Division 1 state championship.

Norden talked with reporters about her goal that will no doubt stand the test of time, drawing comparisons to other incredible moments in the program’s history such as then eighth-grader and now St. Mary’s junior varsity coach Ashley Wojewodzic netting a goal in the tenth round of a shootout in the state semifinals, defeating an undefeated Woburn team and leading to the Spartans’ last state championship in 2013.

“Obviously, it wasn’t all me, it’s a team effort and I was just so happy to see our team win at TD Garden,” said Norden. “Bella [Freitas] got me the puck. I love being on a line with Bella. It’s a good feeling that we both could share the goal.”

“I got it off the faceoff, we both went to screen the goalie and I tipped it, but Alyssa was right there at the right time,” said Freitas.

Freitas scored two goals and assisted on Norden’s game-winner, a play started by freshman Keira Twomey off a faceoff. One of Freitas’ goals was a coast-to-coast special that electrified the St. Mary’s rooting section. 

“I saw a lot of space when I curled the net, and I knew I could try to maneuver my way through, so that was really good,” said Freitas, a truly special hockey talent.

Pagliuca was understandably proud and prideful about his team’s comeback from a 3-1 deficit and the regrouping that went on before the overtime periods. “I am so proud of the kids, obviously the game could have went either way. We go down, 3-1, and we just kept playing. That’s been our motto all year – to do it together. Obviously, the goal that we gave up at the end of the game was tough, but the kids kept playing and stayed focused. They battled and competed their hearts out. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Tringale’s excellent 


in overtime a key to victory

Gianna Tringale made 14 saves in the overtimes, displaying an amazing glove hand in the tense “next goal wins a state title” atmosphere.

“She was nails the whole way. I really believe that she won us that game,” said Pagliuca. “She kept us at bay. She made a couple of adjustments after Sarah White beat her twice  on great shots on the far post. She did a great job. I’m so proud of her for giving us a chance to win the game. She hadn’t started a varsity game until her senior year, so think about how far she’s come.”

Tringale, one of only three seniors on the St. Mary’s roster (Regan Sullivan and Kasey Litwin are the others), joined fellow “stars of the game” Norden and Freitas in the post-game interview room at the Garden.

“They put their trust on me, so I had to put that trust back on them and not dwell on a shot or goal and move on to the next shot,” said Tringale. “[As a senior], it’s just amazing. It’s my last high school career game at the TD Garden. Even if we lost, it’d be such a great experience. But hey, we won.”

Vanessa Hall was an 

unsung hero in victory

While the goal scorers and forwards usually get the headlines (unless you’re Bobby Orr), there was an unheralded contributor in the state championship game, and that was eighth grade defenseman Vanessa Hall.

Hall played every shift of the overtimes. 

“Vanessa played out of her mind,” credited Pagliuca. “She was blocking shots. She didn’t come off the ice. Abby Malcuit stepped up, too, and did a great job. We said, ‘you have to do the little things in overtime, you have to block shots and sacrifice your body if you want to give your team a chance to win a state championship, and Vanessa was one of the best players on the ice – she really was.’”

Also making a valuable contribution was Audrey Zink, whose goal tied the game at 1-1. The junior forward made a heads-up play to position herself behind the defense and then calmly found an opening and deposited the puck in the net.

Frosh phenom Freitas

turns it up a notch in playoffs 

After having one of the most prolific regular seasons in school history, scoring a record 48 goals and being named the league MVP, Bella Freitas was just as superstar-ish in the MIAA playoffs.

Obviously, the main focus of the NDA defense, Freitas drew four penalties from the Cougars.

“We had an idea that Notre Dame was going to target her and they did a great job with her,” said Pagliuca. “We talked about just picking your spots and not trying to do everything on one shift. Her linemates stepped it up as well.”

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