Central Catholic defeats Wellesley, captures first girls lacrosse state title

BURLINGTON — For Nicolette Licare and her teammates, Thursday’s game provided a rare opportunity. After knocking on the door for a few years, her squad had a chance to make history, and the senior was hoping for one final sendoff before her high school journey concluded.

Mission accomplished.

The University of Rhode Island commit finished with a game-high five goals, as top-seeded Central Catholic closed its impeccable campaign in style by capturing its first Div. 1 girls lacrosse championship with a 14-8 victory over No. 2 Wellesley.

“I don’t really have all the words,” said Central Catholic coach Vanessa Pino. “The girls did all the work. I guided them, but they put the work in, and they executed.”

The Raiders (24-2) were also propelled by junior Kerri Finneran, who finished with four goals. Led by a pair of tallies from Licare, Central Catholic was able to construct a 5-1 lead right out of the gate, and appeared to be in cruise control through one quarter.

However, Wellesley (20-5) was able to chip away, largely due to its ability to capitalize on extra opportunities. Olivia Comella and Abby Beggans each sniped free position shots, before Axexandra Papavassiliou buried a goal with 1:13 left in the second quarter as her group cut it to a 6-4 contest at the half.

Yet, whenever it felt like Wellesley was about to creep back into contention, Central Catholic answered. Finneran added a goal in the third quarter, while Licare tacked on two more to make it a 10-6 tilt going into the fourth.

With her team leading 12-7 with 4:17 to play, Licare sealed things, as she sprinted past a few defenders before burying her fifth and final shot of the evening to send the crowd into a frenzy.

“It’s crazy,” said Licare. “This is the fourth year I’ve been here. Two years in a row, we lost in the Elite 8. It feels so good to end it off strong. Obviously, we couldn’t have ended it any better way. I’m so happy, and could not have done it without this team.”

Comella carried Wellesley with a hat trick and two assists.

In only her third year at the helm, Pino has seen her program turn into one of the top strongholds in the state. She smiled as Central Catholic players began rejoicing by singing their school anthem with their fans.

“That’s what Central is all about,” Pino said. “I’m a graduate of Central, I know the Red Sea, I know the community, I know the fans. This is what it’s all about. Support from the students and the staff and the families. Like I said, this is what Central is all about. The crowds, and the family community.”

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