The girls’ varsity hockey team has tapped a goldmine of talent, potential, and experience in two new freshmen goalies, Hannah Insuik and Sammy Hirshland. Both girls hail from Massachusetts: Insuik from Andover and Hirshland from Concord.
Both started their hockey careers young, following the paths of their families. For Insuik, her brother set the model. “I always wanted to do what he did,” Insuik said, and so she began her hockey career at age five.
Hirshland had a similar experience. Influenced by her cousins, she began to play goalie when she was ten. Hirshland and Insuik have both been attending camps and going through intensive goalie clinics since then.
Now they have something to show for it as they play for one of the premier prep school teams in New England. Hirshland made the decision to attend Deerfield because “it’s something a lot of girl hockey players do,” and Deerfield’s wonderful hockey reputation, often earning a spot in the playoffs against fierce competition, spoke for itself. “Coach Meier had already seen me play,” Insuik said, referring to the team she played for in the NEWHL (New England Women’s Hockey League), which travels around New England and competes against prep school teams in exhibition games.
Hirshland and Insuik are enjoying the camaraderie between the team’s goalies early in the season. Both Hirschland and Insuik spoke of separation from the rest of the team when there is only one goalie on the team. Hirshland, for instance, had never been on a team with more than one goalie: “It’s good to be close with the other goalies.”
For the past two years, Shenae Lundberg ’11 has had the full-time goalie spot. She has seven years of experience, was nationally ranked, and was invited to the USA Hockey Development Camp three years in a row. It didn’t take her long to establish herself as a key asset to Deerfield’s program.
While Lundberg accepted and excelled in her role as the team’s starting goalie very early in her career, she said having two other goalies on the team brings a positive effect.
As Lundberg put it, “I can help push them and help them get better just as they can push me and help me get better.” Lundberg remains starter for the girls, but with the two new goalies, she strives to play even better. “I still have to work for my spot; they push me to work hard.”
As for the whole team, having more than one goalie makes a huge difference. “It makes us better and the goalies better,” said Gregg Meier, the girls’ varsity hockey coach. Historically, girls’ hockey has one goalie on the roster. In the 2001 playoffs, the team’s only goalie had to play with a 100 °F fever. Lundberg similarly had to play through injuries her freshman year.
Captains Alex Philie ’10 and Madeline Keeshan ’10 expressed appreciation for the addition of the two new goalies.
“Their youth is extremely helpful, as they will have much room to improve over four years on the team,” said Philie. Practices will be made easier as well, since drills can be extended without tiring their only goalie. “We’ve got a really young team this year, and a lot of energy and talent.”
This attitude is helpful heading into the DA girls’ hockey tournament, a holiday invitational, on the weekend of the 18th. Big Green will face off against the National Sports Academy, Nichols, and the Kingswood-Oxford teams in the tournament.