After a two-year absence from the postseason, the Norwood High girls hockey didn’t leave its fans in suspense with an opportunity to clinch a berth Monday at Bajko Rink.
Entering one point shy, the Mustangs scored four times in the first 4:21 of its contest with St. Joseph’s Prep/Mount Alvernia and cruised the rest of the way to a 6-0 victory that locked up a spot in the Division 2 tournament for the first time since 2015.
“That was always our goal but we had no idea if we would be able to do it or not,” said Norwood coach Tim Coskren. “The girls have come together without having any big all-star, the team gelled. We made a couple moves the last few games that have helped but it took us a while. It’s been a roller coaster year, more than anything else. We can play really well one game and look like a different team the next.”
Norwood improved to 10-8-1 overall and 10-7-1 for seeding purposes as its loss to Fontbonne was an exclusion game, as is its trip to Martha’s Vineyard at the end of the regular season. The Mustangs can still move up the postseason pecking order in its next two games against Auburn and Walpole.
The Norwood offense was powered by six different scorers. Sophomore Allie McDonough, sophomore Allie Martin, freshman Maggie Curran and junior Rose Campbell had goals in the early barrage, while junior Jess Keller added one in the second period and senior Sam Doucette another in the third.
Sophomore Jenna Mazzola and freshman Mary Lee combined to make 12 saves for the shutout.
The Mustangs managed to book their tourney return despite entering the season filled with question marks and with an extremely young roster composition of over half freshmen and sophomores.
“There are a lot of girls that we didn’t expect to get much out of that have played way above what we expected,” said Coskren.
McDonough slipped a shot inside the right post at 1:52 of the first for the first goal, and the next three came in a span of just over a minute – rebound strikes from Martin and Curran and a changeup from Campbell that seemed to fool goalie Lila Romano.
Norwood took the foot off the gas from there against the one-win opposition, running out its first liners sparingly the rest of the way, particularly top sniper McDonough.
Keller buried a high wrister midway through the second and Doucette closed the scoring from in tight early in the third.
Norwood drew within a point of the postseason with a 4-4 draw at Bishop Stang last Wednesday, getting a hat trick from McDonough, including the tying score, and a goal from smooth-skating freshman defenseman Kayla Clifford.
The Mustangs’ first stab at qualification came Saturday but was denied by Braintree in a 3-0 shutout as Norwood outshot the Wamps but gave up two power-play goals and an empty-netter.
“We have been low on offense, we have been getting more shots on net but they just haven’t been going in for us,” said Coskren. “We say it’s a matter of time but there’s only a week left in the season.”