Junior Alexandra Cellucci's rocket of a wrist shot into the top of Canton's net early in sudden-death overtime gave the Belmont High School Marauder's a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Canton High School Bulldogs at Skip Viglirolo Skating Rink in Belmont Wednesday, Feb. 29.
Cellucci's goal, coming off a pin-point pass from linemate senior Caroline McCarthy on a two-on-one breakout, sends fifth-ranked Belmont to the quarterfinals of the MIAA Division 2 State Tournament on Sunday.
In a game that saw great swings of momentum, Belmont rushed off to a three goal lead midway through the second period as each Marauder line scored in a three minute span.
Senior assist captain and second line center Shannon Reynolds, Cellucci and fellow junior Catherine Noone from the third line found the back of the net for the Marauders as 10 Belmont skaters earned a point for a goal or an assist in the game.
But the young Canton team, lead by three seniors, stormed back to tie the game twice, including the final time with just 1:53 left in regulation.
Senior forward and assistant captain Stephahie Rizzitano scored the first of three consecutive goals from in front of Belmont's junior goalie Megan Foley seconds after Belmont went up 3-0.
Canton got within one when junior Meaghan McKenna netted a pass from senior captain Michelle McNeil streaking down ice after six minutes of play in the third. The Bulldogs completed the comeback as 9th grader Jackie Martin one-timed a shot from the slot after Rizzitano stopped a Belmont clearing pass on the blue line.
It appeared that Belmont had won the game with 3:11 left in regulation when, after relentless pressure in the Bulldog's end, freshman Pauline Ayer took a pass from senior Britta Marden and barely beat Canton's goalie Emily Buckley through the pads as the puck bounced lazily into the net.
But a Belmont penalty 40 second later gave the Bulldogs life and senior Haley Gaughan – who led Canton to the Div. 2 South Field Hockey championship where they lost in the state semifinals to Watertown, 4-3, the same Red Raiders team that knocked out Belmont of the state championships in their previous game, 2-1 – scored in close to tie it up for the final time with 1:53 remaining in the game.
Belmont had to survive a Bulldog power play – one of five Canton had in the game – in the final seconds in the third and into overtime before McCarthy gathered the puck in her defensive end and skated straight up the center of the ice before sending the puck onto Cellucci's stick. The junior goal scorer's shot beat Buckley's glove high for the victory.
While her fellow Marauders mobbed Cellucci, the Canton sophomore goalie laid slumped in her net for several minutes until teammates came to take her to the bench.
The Marauders, who will play this Sunday, will not know their opponent until tonight's game between fourth-seeded Norwood and Maratha's Vineyard. A Norwood win would result in the Marauders traveling to Norwood while an upset by the islanders will see another home game in Belmont.