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By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Two of the area’s top high school girls hockey programs met at Wellesley Sports Center on Wednesday evening as the two-time reigning Division II state champion Wellesley Raiders hosted the Austin Prep Cougars.
After falling 1-0 to the Cougars (7-1-2, 2-0-1) back on December 18 at Matthews Arena, the Raiders (10-1-0, 8-0-0) entered Wednesday’s contest on an eight-game winning streak and looked to avenge their lone defeat of the 2019-2020 season.
From the start, Wellesley was in control. The Raiders outshot the Cougars 32-9. Despite puck control and shots on net being lopsided in favor of Wellesley, the Raiders still needed to play a full three periods with Austin Prep goalie Lauryn Hanafin (30 saves) standing on her head throughout.
Following a scoreless first period, senior forward Mackenzie O’Neil drew first blood for Wellesley with 2:30 to play in the second, burying a rebound at the net-mouth following an initial shot by senior Emily Rourke on a rush down the left wing. Just 1:34 later and with the Raiders on the power play, Rourke doubled Wellesley’s lead to two by tipping a shot from the point by O’Neil following an initial deflection by junior Bliss Vernon. Wellesley carried their two-goal lead into the second intermission.
With 11:55 to play in the third, Monique Lyons cut the deficit to 2-1 at Austin Prep by one-timing home a shot from the left face-off circle. The game would remain 2-1 until 1:10 to play, when sophomore forward Danielle Cimino buried the clinching empty-netter after Austin Prep pulled Hanafin for an extra attacker. The clock hit zeroes and Wellesley came away with the 3-1 victory to make it nine straight wins.
Wellesley will look to continue the winning trend when the Raiders host Brookline on February 1.
For funny and insightful sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram @flano0.