Women’s hockey wins CCC title, to compete in NCAA tournament Wednesday

The Suffolk University women’s hockey team hosted the Endicott College Gulls on March 4 for the Commonwealth Coast Conference championship game, with the Rams prevailing with a final score of 2-1 to win the title.

The win goes down as the first CCC championship title in program history, and they join the women’s cross country team and men’s outdoor track and field team as the third Suffolk team to win a CCC title.

“Two great teams,” said head coach Taylor Wasylk on the matchup. “Our goalie Lily played unbelievable, kept us in it when we were in the d-zone, just complete team effort blocking shots, getting pucks on net, we kept it simple and got the win.”

Lily O’Neil was the starter for the contest and faced a heavy workload, making 10 saves in the first period, 16 in the second and 14 in the third period for a 40-save night, setting a school record for saves in a postseason game.

Goaltender Lily O’Neil was named CCC Goaltender of the Week for her performance in the championship (JD Conte)

“I thought it was great, she was lights out,” said Wasylk on O’Neil’s performance. “A couple of them I couldn’t believe she saved, so we were very excited about that.”

In front of the home crowd, Suffolk wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard. Senior Madison Duff scored just 3:32 into regulation, with the assist going to fellow senior Jesse Kennedy.

With time winding down in the second period, the Gulls were whistled for what turned out to be their only penalty of the game. The Rams took advantage of the lone power play chance, with senior Sofia Scilipoti scoring with 1:28 to go in the middle frame, assisted by Duff and team captain Shana Cote.

The members of the inaugural 2018-2019 squad with head coach Taylor Wasylk (JD Conte)

“Keep it simple, get pucks deep and on net,” said Wasylk on the game plan. “They have a very good goalie so we knew we’d need traffic in front. Somebody in front screening for the first goal and then a rebound goal for the second one, so exactly like we drew it up.”

Endicott responded with a goal from Nicole Connor with 8:48 left on the clock in the third period. O’Neil and the Rams shut down the Gulls for the remainder of the game to seal up the win.

Suffolk’s penalty kill was a big factor in the victory, stopping all five Endicott power plays, four of which came in the second period, which resulted in one 5-on-3 power play for the Gulls.

Michaela O’Brien was the starting goalie for Endicott, registering 23 saves on 25 Suffolk shots.

With the conference title in hand, the Rams will advance to the NCAA women’s hockey tournament, becoming the first Suffolk squad to do so since the baseball team accomplished the feat in 2018, and the first women’s Suffolk team to do so since women’s tennis did in 2007.

It was announced on Tuesday that five Rams skaters garnered All-CCC honors along with Wasylk behind the bench. Cote was named CCC Player of the Year and got a spot on the All-CCC First Team, joined by Duff and Leslie Steiner. Scilipoti and Miranda Gaudet picked up All-CCC Second Team honors, while Wasylk was selected as CCC Coach of the Year.

Sunday night, the NCAA announced that Suffolk will take on the eighth-seeded Middlebury College on March 8 in Middlebury, Vermont. Middlebury is the defending NCAA national champion and gained an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

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