Senior Star Patterson Relishing Captain’s Role As PDS Girls’ Hockey Gaining Confidence
LEADING THE WAY: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Julie Patterson controls the puck in game last year. Last Wednesday, senior forward and captain Patterson scored two goals to help PDS defeat Pingry 5-1. The Panthers, who fell 3-0 to Portledge School (N.Y.) last Monday to move to 2-2, head to Maryland this weekend to play the Holton-Arms School (Md.) on December 14 and 15 and Georgetown Visitation Prep (D.C.) on December 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Having been a star for the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey since joining the program as a freshman in 2015, Julie Patterson relishes being a resource for her younger teammates.
“I like showing them what to do on and off the ice, being a good leader and helping them grow,” said senior star and team captain Patterson.
Last Wednesday against visiting Pingry, Patterson showed off her finishing skills, tallying twice in a three-minute span of the second period as PDS pulled away to a 5-1 victory.
“I had some good shots; it was definitely a good game, their goalie was good,” said Patterson.
“My teammates are great; Natalie (Celso) made a good pass to me when I had that breakaway. I definitely used my players and the wide space of the ice.”
Having rolled to an 11-0 win over Westfield in its season opener on November 19, the Panthers were excited to get a stiffer test with their matchup against Pingry.
“It showed our depth more; I think our defense and Jillian Wexler, our goalie, played a really good game,” said Patterson. “She had some amazing saves so that was really helpful.”
Excelling at both ends of the ice should help PDS going forward. “Our team is a little bit younger but coming off two wins now is definitely a confidence booster for us and our season,” said Patterson. “It will be a good start for us and show our progress.”
Patterson has made a lot of progress individually over her four seasons with the program.
“I have been taking lessons and playing travel; I have been growing with PDS’s team,” said Patterson, who will playing at the next level, having committed to attend Wilkes University and play for its Division III women’s hockey program.
“Coach [Lorna] Cook is amazing; she helps me so much and then the team — everyone helps each other on our skills. We work on it in practice really well and I am excited to play in college.”
Cook, for her part, is excited to see Patterson grow into a team leader. “Watching her mature on and off the ice has been great; it has been a thing to keep pushing her to get the most of the experience here,” said Cook.
“She is a natural goal scorer; that is what she brings to the team and always brought. Now it is just a matter of making sure that she is stepping into that leadership role even more too.”
Sophomore goalie Wexler stepped up against Pingry, making 27 saves and just missing out on a shutout as the Big Blue tallied with 23 seconds remaining in the contest.
“Jillian has improved tremendously; she earned the shutout today, but obviously it didn’t work,” said Cook. “She had so many ridiculous saves, where it was ‘how did she get to that?’”
Cook saw improvement in her defensive crew over the course of the Pingry game.
“That was our first test for our defense, and we have a younger corps on defense there; I would put them all together as a group,” said Cook, referring to junior Caroline Haggerty, junior Annabel Thomas, freshman Natalie Celso, and sophomore Hannah Chloe.
“It is each of them trying to learn to play to their strengths more and how to work together. We gave up some rushes, but I think it was great for us to get that experience, where they have to realize ‘now how do I change my gap and how do I make a play here?’”
A sense of togetherness is helping the Panthers produce good work on the ice.
“They love being around each other; last year you could see it coming together for the group, and it is a lot of the same group,” said Cook, whose team who fell 3-0 to Portledge School (N.Y.) last Monday to move to 2-2 and heads to Maryland this weekend to play the Holton-Arms School (Md.) on December 14 and 15 and Georgetown Visitation Prep (D.C.) on December 15. “This year it is even more because we have additional players that have fit right it in.”
In Patterson’s view, PDS is headed in the right direction. “I think it will be good if we keep working and digging in at practice,” said Patterson, noting that the Panthers are looking forward to the program’s annual Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational, which is slated to take place January 5-6.
“We will be a good team to play for our season and our competition if we keep working and everyone keeps growing.”