By Alexa Sadowski, Sports Editor and Olivia Almeida, Staff Writer
The small but determined hockey team celebrated both group and individual successes throughout the months of January and February before its inaugural season came to a close.
“The season has been going really well. We all worked really hard at practices and have all become really close as a team in a short amount of time. Since there are only eight of us able to play, we try our best to play really well together,” junior Carolyn Litwin said.
At the beginning of the season, the team consisted of four freshmen who had hockey experience, two freshmen who had never put on hockey skates and two juniors who were relatively new to the game. The team started their practices divided, where the more experienced players did more rigorous drills and the other girls worked on skating and basic stickhandling. The team was then able to bond when the more experienced players helped each novice player improve. Halfway through practices, the team would scrimmage each other.
The season started with a bang as the team won its first game against Westfield. This historical win was exciting for both coaches and players as they didn’t know what to expect. Freshman Adriana Crepaldi was even nominated for and subsequently won the Jersey Sports Zone’s December Goal of the Month.
In addition to Crepaldi’s individual accomplishment, fellow freshman Molly Riggi was selected for the NJSIAA Ice Hockey Championship All-Tournament Team. Anna Clements, Elisabeth Clements, Crepaldi and Riggi were also selected to play in the 2nd annual NJ Girls High School All Star Game at the RWJ Barnabas Health Hockey House in Newark on Mar 2.
The team also competed in its first NJISAA Prep State Tournament game against Morristown-Beard on Feb. 19. Although they lost the contest by a score of 7-12, the score was much closer than Monarchs’ earlier 0-9 loss to Morristown Beard just two weeks prior, reflecting the progress of the young team.
Assistant coach Catherine Danielczyk said she was proudest of the courage and perseverance each player displayed. All players gave their best efforts at the early morning practices that took place before school. With only eight healthy players, the girls were asked to skate very long shifts during games and did so without hesitation.
“These teams are usually made up of 25 or 30 girls; compared to our eight we are definitely small, but we are mighty. The typical shift for a hockey player is about two minutes. We are asking girls to play eight minute shifts, which means they are playing to the point of near exhaustion. I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Danielczyk said.