There won’t be any team dinners, MIAA state tournaments, locker rooms or even fans in the stands with the new COVID-19 modifications, but as the girls’ hockey season gets underway after months of uncertainty, teams across the area still show excitement to compete for their respective league or conference titles.
It starts at the top of last year’s crop, as reigning Div. 1 state co-champion Woburn brings back a slew of talent in a loaded Middlesex Liberty League. Head coach Steve Kennedy believes the veteran presence of his six accomplished seniors – led by captain forwards Bella Shaw, Kenzie Russo, Kelsey Ficociello and defensive anchor Lily Anderson – will guide a group also containing six eighth-graders that is eager to take the reins.
“I think the mindset coming into this season is to be grateful and appreciate every minute that we have,” Kennedy said. “If there’s a league title at stake, we want to compete for that league title. But at the same time, not lose sight of the fact that it’s been a really tough year and that it’s important for us to go out there and have a good time.”
Joining Woburn as a top dog looking to seize the opportunity is Arlington, which returns most of its best players after a trip to the Div. 1 state quarterfinal. Sophomore forward Maddy Krepelka comes off a goal-heavy freshman campaign to join senior Makayla Doherty and junior Gabby Russo for a dynamic scoring attack. Senior captain Shea O’Day, junior Grace Corsetti and junior Devin Norman anchor a strong defense.
Belmont is among the elite again, with sophomore Bridget Gray filling the net again after 10 shutouts last year. Winchester rounds out the Middlesex Liberty with 11 seniors after reaching the state playoffs last year, led by forwards Niki Micciche and Mary Lou Coakley, as well as defenseman Ariane O’Rourke.
Div. 1 state co-champion Austin Prep figures to bring back star goalie Lauryn Hanafin and forward Isabel Hulse. The Cougars play a tough schedule in the Catholic Central League, facing St. Mary’s of Lynn – another contender from last year – three times. St. Mary’s figures to be in the running for the CCL Cup title at the end of the year, with six valuable forwards pacing a formidable Spartans attack, led by Sam Porazinski, Jenna Chaplain and Maggie Pierce.
Matignon opened some eyes with a season-opening 3-1 win over St. Mary’s behind goals from Alexa McKim, Molly McConnell, and Lizzy Greeley. Bishop Fenwick and Arlington Catholic will compete as well.
The normally Dual County League/Merrimack Valley Conference teams will only play in their respective DCL or MVC groupings, but both still feature top teams. While HPNA looks to lead the MVC again, Boston Latin brings back senior stalwarts Olivia Temple at forward and Ally Keough on defense to headline the DCL. Netminder Ellen Linso also comes back after an All-Scholastic season. Lincoln-Sudbury, Concord-Carlisle and Waltham should make some great competition before a DCL postseason.
After three straight state championships in Div. 2, Wellesley once again looks to emerge as one of the better teams in the state with a healthy mix of players. Senior defenseman Maja Desmond and Lauren Burke lead a fierce defensive unit in the Bay State Conference. Grace Donahue, Kaitlin Braun and Dani Cimino also come in as key players for a team that head coach P.T. Donato feels will have a lot of fun while still facing good competition despite new regulations and no postseason conference tournament.
“We’re trying to do as much as we can on the ice, keep it loose and have as much fun as we can,” he said. “The goal here is to keep it loose. I think if we have fun the success will follow. It’s always great, competitive games when playing league opponents, so we’re really excited to be playing these rivals we’ve had for multiple years.”
Natick always gives Wellesley fight in the conference, and Needham will do the same behind All-Scholastic forward Brit Nawrocki.
Div. 2 state co-champion Canton also expects to bring back a strong team that likely will make some noise. Defenseman Allie McCabe and goaltender Carolyn Durand give Canton one of the best defenses in the Hockomock League, while offense flourishes from seniors Maria Femia, Ellie Roberts and Lizzie Tassinari. Franklin and Mansfield/Oliver Ames/Foxboro serve as the main competition.
Norwell fields a young group looking to compete as goaltender Nicole Prescott and senior defenseman Emma Breen while anchor the defense, while new head coach Mike Breen expects a lot offensively from freshman Colby Cantor, Maddy McDonald and Maddy Holman. He’s excited for tight competition with teams in Duxbury, Hingham and newcomer Notre Dame Academy before the Patriot League Cup postseason tournament.
The Cape and Islands League also plans for postseason play, with Sandwich figuring to headline the group again with strong returning play in net from Sophia Visciglio. Maura McIver comes off 40-plus points last year in search of 100 on her career to lead a much deeper team than last year, which will get a crack at revenge against Falmouth for last year’s loss to it in the playoffs.
Sam McKenzie and Ryann McDonald expect to once again lead Falmouth in scoring, Katie Shanahan serves as a solid two-way player and Abby McDonald should be one of the best defenseman in the league again. Barnstable and Dennis-Yarmouth rank among the other contenders in the league.
SIX TEAMS TO WATCH IN DIVISION 1
Austin Prep (21-2-2)
Boston Latin (16-4-4)
St. Mary’s (16-3-4)
SIX TEAMS TO WATCH IN DIVISION 2
Notre Dame (14-5-3)
TOP PLAYERS TO WATCH
GOALIES: Lauryn Hanafin (Austin Prep), Bridget Gray (Belmont), Ellen Linso (Boston Latin), Carolyn Durand (Canton), Gabby Colace (Franklin), Lucy Armour (Falmouth), Sophia Visciglio (Sandwich), Nicole Prescott (Norwell)
DEFENSE: Lily Anderson (Woburn), Maja Desmond (Wellesley), Shea O’Day (Arlington), Aria Kader (St. Mary’s), Abby Roman (Falmouth), Lauren Burke (Wellesley), Allie McCabe (Canton), Emma Pereira (Mansfield/Oliver Ames/Foxboro), Abby McDonald (Falmouth), Grace Donahue (Wellesly), Ally Keough (Boston Latin), Grace Corsetti (Arlington), Ariana O’Rourke (Winchester)
FORWARDS: Christine Landry (NDA), Gabby Russo (Arlington), Jess Driscoll (Methuen/Tewksbury), Niki Micciche (Winchester), Isabel Hulse (Austin Prep), Ryann McDonald (Falmouth), Jenna Chaplain (St. Mary’s), Maggie Milne (Arlington Catholic), Makayla Doherty (Arlington), Kelsey Ficociello (Woburn), Maddy McDonald (Norwell), Sam McKenzie (Falmouth), Maura McIver (Sandwich), Brit Nawrocki (Needham), Colby Cantor (Norwell), Kenzie Russo (Woburn), Olivia Temple (Boston Latin), Maddy Krepelka (Arlington), Maggie Pierce (St. Mary’s), Mary Lou Coakley (Winchester)
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