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Girls' Ice Hockey: The Best Team No One Knows Shuts Out Undefeated Winthrop

The mashup of Belmont and Watertown players are undefeated after six games.

They are the best girls' ice hockey team no one knows about.

And Steve Russo, head coach of the girls' ice hockey made up of players from Belmont and Watertown high schools, wants it to stay that way.

"That's what we like, staying under the radar," Russo told Belmont Patch after his Watertown/Belmont combined team defeated a pesky Burlington High School team, 5-4, on Saturday, Jan. 4, in Watertown.

But Russo's wish of anonymity will likely be a memory after Monday afternoon, Jan. 6, when the "Maraiders" – a mashup of Marauders and Raiders, the team names for each school – shutout previously undefeated (5-1) Winthrop/Lynn Catholic high schools team, 3-0, in the team's first statement game of the season.

"We have been fortunate but we have really earned our record," said Russo whose team now sports a gaudy 6-0-0 record in a year that the coach best hope was to break even between wins and losses for this first of two scheduled seasons as a combined squad.

With the three next matches against slightly-less competitive competition – although each will be away games – there is a real possibility that Watertown/Belmont could reach nine wins and remain undefeated when they take on powerhouse Reading High at home on Saturday, Jan. 18, with a chance of winning their tenth and qualifying for the state championship tournament. 

Monday's match at Belmont High's Skip Viglirolo Skating Rink – the second of only two home games in Belmont – saw the Maraiders take the win by playing with a bit more skill and skating prowess in a match that saw the referees call an extremely tight game resulting in 16 total penalties (10 assessed against Winthrop) including a seven minute misconduct penalty (bad language at the officials) and a minor penalty charged to a Winthrop assistant coach while another was asked to leave the bench for comments. 

The Maraiders were led offensively once again by speedy junior starting center Emily Loprete who scored twice, the first on the power play with five minutes remaining in the first period – a sniper's shot by Winthrop's goalie Gretchen Howard from right out front of the net – to give the team a 2-0 lead and an empty net goal when she overpowered a Viking defender to steal the puck and walk the puck into the open goal with a minute remaining in the game. 

Loprete – who was recently named a Boston Globe All-Scholastic in field hockey for Watertown High School – also assisted on linemate Erin MacLaughlin's opening goal eight minutes into the first period. (MacLaughlin would leave the game in the second period due to an injury.)

The Maraiders' top defensive pair, senior Kendell Brown and junior Suzanne Noone (who anchored Belmont High's playoff field hockey team), each assisted on the first two goals with Brown getting two and Noone one. 

Russo also praised goaltender Jonna Kennedy, a Watertown Middle School eighth grader, who made a number of impressive stops, earning her third shut out of the season.

"After each game, the number of mistakes she makes is lower. She is the best surprise of this season," said Russo. 

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