MARLBOROUGH – It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
The Algonquin Titans and Natick Redhawks met at New England Sports Center on Monday night, and while both sides struggled offensively, the Titans found their stride as the game progressed, winning the intense, defense-forward matchup to the tune of 2-0.
Both teams had chances in the opening two periods, but neither could capitalize. The goaltenders – Algonquin’s Addy Cagan and Natick’s Sophia Luoni – kept the game scoreless, consistently coming up clutch for their squads.
“She’s been playing amazing,” Algonquin Head Coach Tina Beauchemin said of Cagan. “She’s really stepped up for us, keeping us in the game. She’s getting more confident, that’s good for her, and I’m really proud of the way that she’s really, really into it.”
“I was seeing shots. I was seeing hard work from my teammates, also hard work from Natick though. They had some pretty good shots, but our defense stayed working hard, and they came back. I’ll take the shutout,” Cagan told the Community Advocate.
Cagan kept the Titans alive, and in the third period, the offense finally appeared. With just over nine minutes remaining in the game, Algonquin’s Emily Johns moved the puck around two defenders, glanced at the goalie, and fired into the top-right corner of the net.
The goal would be all Algonquin needed.
“I was just trying to get the puck to the net… I was trying to get anything in case there was a rebound, but luckily for me, it went in,” Johns explained after the game.
Johns’ goal was welcome, but players and coaches alike acknowledged that more offense must be produced for the team to be successful in the coming months.
“We have to score more. We’re having trouble scoring. I mean, the girls are really talented. They play as a team, so that’s good. There’s no eagles on this team – they all play together. They enjoy being together, but we do have to get the puck to the net more,” said Beauchemin.
“Honestly, [coach expects] just a lot of hard work, she just wants us to work hard. We’ve had a few games like this where we struggle to get the puck [in] the net. We work hard, and we find ways to stay composed as a team,” Johns said.
Madelyn Glynn’s empty-net goal put Algonquin ahead 2-0, but Natick fought to the end. With 8.3 seconds remaining, three Titans found themselves in the penalty box, giving Natick the chance to potentially claw their way back. The final few seconds were stressful, but Algonquin prevailed.
“We just wanted to get it to the corner… and not do anything fancy. I was a little bit scared when we got down to four seconds, but [Cagan] was there, she covered it up. She’s seeing the puck well, so that’s good,” said Beauchemin.
With the hard-fought win behind them, the Titans were optimistic about their chances going forward.
“Honestly, I think we can make it to the finals. We have a lot of young talent and a lot of old talent. I think we can make it,” Cagan said.
“We’re capable of anything… We’ve just got to have each other’s back and keep working hard,” said Johns.