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PROVIDENCE â For the fourth time this season, Mount St. Charles had a hard-fought battle on its hands with longtime rival La Salle, but unlike their first three meetings, the Mounties werenât fortunate enough to skate out of it with a âWâ.
And unfortunately for the Mounties, this was no ordinary loss. This was one of their most lopsided defeats in the programâs history, and it took place on a stage they couldnât afford to lose on â the opening game of the best-of-three State Championship series.
Freshman standout Meaghan Rickard scored a pair of goals and senior goalie Holly Scott, who has been a longtime nemesis of the Mounties, turned away 31 shots to lead the Rams to a 4-0 victory at Providence Collegeâs Schneider Arena.
The Mounties, who allowed just 12 goals during the regular season and first round of the playoffs en route to crafting a 17-1 mark, will try to wipe away the sting from this loss and even the series today at 3:30 p.m. when the two foes return to PC.
And if they are successful, they will play the Rams, who they beat thrice by scores of 3-1, 3-1, and 3-2 (in overtime) this season, for all the marbles and their third straight state title on Tuesday at either 7:30 or 8:30 p.m.
âItâs a new day tomorrow,â added MSC coach Steve Shea. âObviously, this was a tough loss, but weâre just going to try to put this game behind us and come back tomorrow.â
Like their regular-season meetings, the Mounties outshot the Rams (15-4) by a somewhat wide margin, doing so by a 31-18 count, but again, Scott was up for the challenge in recording her 10th shutout of the season.
âHolly was Holly,â Shea said of the veteran goalie, who totaled 104 saves in her three regular-season meetings with MSC. âWe knew what we would get with her, and she played a good game. She didnât make any mistakes.â
The Mounties ruled the opening period, outshooting the Rams, 14-2, but in the second period, it was a completely different story, as La Salle dominated the first eight minutes and took 10 of the periodâs first 13 shots.
They also lit the lamp on their first shot of the period, when 43 seconds into play, Rickard tipped a pass from Jenna Pari past goaltender Sarah Erban.
The Rams continued to apply pressure the Mounties, and midway through the period, they doubled their lead when Sarah Migliori stole the puck from a defenseman in front of the net, skated in alone on Erban and flipped a shot over her left shoulder.
âWe were a little deflated after that goal,â offered Shea. âWe regrouped and started pouring it on again, but we just couldnât get (a goal) to make it 2-1.â
The Mountiesâ best chance to cut into their deficit came six minutes into the third period when Alisha Sleboda skated free on a partial breakaway after a Rams defenseman slipped on the ice trying to defend her. Sleboda broke in on Scott, but delivered a shot over the net and off the glass.
Caitlin Shea also had a golden opportunity to beat Scott on a breakaway with 3Â˝ minutes to play, but she was unable to get off a clean shot.
The Rams then stuck a dagger in the Mountiesâ spirits with 3:01 on the clock when Rickard netted her second goal off another pass from Pari, a fluke goal that saw Rickard lose control of the puck in front of the net, only to watch it slowly slide past Erban.
Desperate to get on the board, the Mounties then yanked Erban in favor of a sixth attacker, but the move backfired with 1.6 seconds to go when Michaela McNamara buried a shot from the blue line into the top left corner.
Prior to that goal, the Mounties lost the services of one of their top scorers, freshman sniper Elisabeth Berard, who suffered a head and neck injury when she was checked by a La Salle player.
She went with her family to Hasbro Childrenâs Hopsital after the game, and her status for this afternoonâs game is questionable.