By BOB YORK –
“It’s a tough league,” is the way coach Genevieve Pitt described how Deerfield Academy spent the past winter grinding its way through the Division I ranks of New England Prep School Girls Hockey. “On any given night, any one team is more than capable of beating another.”
Come to think of it, that might go a long way in explaining just how a sixth-seeded Westminster team–a team that bested the Big Green by only a 4-0 score during the regular season–could knock off third-seeded Pomfret, then second-ranked St. Paul’s and finally top-seeded Noble and Greenough to capture this season’s Division I New England Prep School Girls Hockey Tournament.
It might also go a long way in explaining why Deerfield wasn’t on hand to participate in postseason play. Although it finished its season with a record of 8-13-1, it finished standing in the shadows of some of the teams that did. Of the Big Green’s 13 losses this season, five came via one-goal deficits. Three were credited to tournament teams: a 2-1 loss to second-seeded St. Paul’s and two to eighth-ranked Loomis. One was a 4-3 loss in overtime, the other, a 2-1 defeat.
So, a couple bounces of the puck here and a couple there, plus a shot or two where the puck finds the back of the net rather than clanking off the post and sailing wide and who knows, you’ve got yourself a tourney invite.
Deerfield didn’t drop all the close games it was involved in this season, however. The Big Green rang up back-to-back one-goal wins in mid January, besting Exeter, 2-1, in overtime, then archrival Choate, 3-2. Kayla O’Connor (14), who led the team in scoring this season with 20 points on 13 goals and seven assists and who earned the team’s MVP award, chalked up the goal in overtime to beat Exeter.
Devinne Cullinane (14), who was recipient of the team’s Seventh Player Award this winter, netted three of her four goals on the season during the game against Choate. Katherine Jackson (15) who netted 12 goals and five assists for 17 points on the season, potted a third-period tally to earn the Big Green a 2-2 tie with Andover, while it turned the tables on Cushing Academy this season, beating the Penguins, 2-0, following a 3-0 defeat at their hands last year.
Deerfield’s other big gun this winter was freshman phenom Meghan Halloran who scripted a storied debut on the prep school level by finishing as the Big Green’s second leading scorer with 19 points on 10 goals and nine assists. Taylor Morash (16) finished with just two goals and two assists, “but really came on during the last six games of the season and showed us what we can look forward to next season,” said Pitt.
Back on defense, Maryanne Iodice (14), who posted six points on one goal and five assists, helped head up the blue line crew, along with captain Kylie Davis (14) and Katherine Goguen (16).
Emily Yue (16) held the fort between the Big Green pipes this winter after Molly Kennedy (16) went down with a season-ending injury early in the season. She hung in there, however, sporting a stingy 2.42 goals against average, while registering four shutouts.
“This was a great group of kids to coach,” said a proud coach. “They worked hard all season long and really came together as a team. We will be losing some outstanding hockey players this year to graduation, but we’ve got a good nucleus returning and I feel very optimistic about the future.”
Speaking of the future, Jackson and Madi Lyford (15) have been voted as captains of next year’s team by their peers, while Lucy Lytle (15) has been elected an assistant captain.