METHUEN -- The Methuen-Tewksbury girls hockey team was a goal short of its ultimate goal of winning a state championship last year.

With the graduation of several key players, including standout forward Kelly Golini, a three-time MVC/DCL Player of the Year, it was easy to assume the Red Rangers might have a difficult time duplicating their recent success.

But as the Red Rangers skate toward the midway point of their regular-season schedule, Methuen-Tewksbury, which fell to Woburn, 1-0, in the Division 1 state final last March, is looking as formidable as ever.

With center Julia Masotta, a senior from Tewksbury High, leading the way, the high-flying Red Rangers have gotten off to an electric 7-1 start.

Masotta scored four goals and added an assist as Methuen-Tewksbury defeated Lincoln-Sudbury, 8-2, in an MVC/DCL cross-over game at Methuen High School on Wednesday night.

Carolyn Curley and Ryan Quinn chipped in offensively with a goal and two assists each for the Red Rangers. Cassidy Gruning and Jessica Driscoll tallied a goal and assist apiece. Kaia Hollingsworth made 17 saves in goal.

"It's so much fun playing on this team," said Masotta. "We have so much talent. We're such a good high school team. Getting to play with all my friends since elementary school has been a blast."

This is Masotta's first season playing for Methuen-Tewksbury. Prior to this season, she had been making a name for herself as a gifted-scorer for the Boston Jr.


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Shamrocks in the Junior Women's Hockey League (JWHL).

Masotta has a great shot and is a talented playmaker. But it's her skating that sets her apart as an offensive dynamo. The steel blades beneath her feet allow Masotta to dissect defenses on the go. A burst of energy, who displays unbelievable balance and speed during her dashes up ice, Masotta's stellar play has the Red Rangers once again flashing their championship form.

"Her skating is phenomenal," said Methuen-Tewksbury coach Sarah Oteri. "That's something that players sometimes lack. But she can get on her edges and go.

"She's also very good with the puck. Her game awareness is second to none. She can pick her head up and find open players. She can shoot the puck, but she also makes a lot of plays off passes on the rush. She's just been awesome."

Masotta was at her dominating best against Lincoln-Sudbury (7-3). She scored the Red Rangers' first two goals and netted three goals and added an assist in the first period as Methuen-Tewksbury was up 5-1 after one period. She potted her fourth goal in the second period.

According to MassHShockey.com, Masotta is the leading girls high school hockey scorer in Massachusetts with 21 goals and six assists for 27 points.

"Scoring is definitely fun," said Masotta, who will continue her hockey career at Norwich University. "But winning as a team means the most to me. It's so great to be part of such a winning program. That's the best part of playing here. It's fun to have people at the games and get the type of support we get. It's been awesome."

The Red Rangers have a deep and talented roster. Masotta is quick to point out the role her teammates have played when it comes to her goal scoring total.

"The passes from teammates have been such a big part of my success," said Masotta. "I couldn't do what I'm doing without them. They've made this all possible for me. And the coaching staff puts me in the best possible spots to get chances to score. We're winning as a team."

Methuen-Tewksbury certainly has the look of team that could make another extended postseason run.

"I think we have a lot of depth, which really helps," said Oteri. "(Masotta) has been phenomenal, but we also have a lot of other players who grind and make plays and do the little things it takes to win. Overall it's been a good team effort."

Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi