Sophomore Goalie Wexler Shows Her Progress As PDS Girls’ Hockey Takes 2nd at Invitational
GLOVE WORK: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey goalie Jillian Wexler gloves a save in action last season. On Sunday, sophomore standout Wexler starred in a losing cause, making 33 saves as PDS fell 2-0 to Chatham-Madison High in the championship game of its Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational. The Panthers, who moved to 3-7 with the loss, are slated to host Rye Country Day (N.Y.) on January 10 and Randolph High on January 15. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Jillian Wexler enjoys keeping busy when she is on the ice for the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team.
Last Sunday as PDS hosted Chatham-Madison High at McGraw Rink in the championship game of its 29th annual Harry Rulon-Miller Invitational, sophomore star goalie Wexler was under the gun all afternoon. She ended up making 33 saves, starring in a losing cause as the Panthers fell 2-0.
“I like to get a couple of shots to start off,” said Wexler. “It is not fun to sit there and get rusty. I thought I played my game.”
Although Wexler was disappointed by the outcome, she liked the way the Panthers battled to the final buzzer.
“We played Chatison last year two or three times and all of the game were close; I knew they would give us a nice test,” said Wexler. “We gave a good effort, they were definitely a challenge for us. We lack experience but everyone tried really hard.”
Getting a lot of experience with her club team in addition to PDS has helped Wexler make a lot of progress from last winter.
“My game overall has gotten better because I have been working with my goalie coach,” said Wexler, who plays for the New Jersey Colonials U16 club team and trains with its goaltending director Dan Gould.
“My movement has improved, I have gotten a lot quicker; up and down, side to side. I am getting better at playing the puck too. The glove is something that is natural for me.”
As the only goalie on the PDS roster the last two years, Wexler enjoys that responsibility.
“Sometimes I wish I had one, but it is nice getting the games,” said Wexler. “I don’t feel any pressure, I just play my game.”
PDS head coach Lorna Cook is impressed by how Wexler has stepped up her game.
“You see can see the improvement in Jill from last year to this year, it is really apparent,” said Cook.
“Her angles are getting much better, she has been working a lot with the goalie coach for her travel team. She played well last year for us; the improvement then was really obvious and it has continued. She hasn’t played goalie for that long actually. She is just a very competitive kid. Mentally, she has been much stronger; she doesn’t let a goal rattle her. She has been supporting her teammates really well and has been a really positive influence for a team that has a lot of new players.”
Noting that PDS was welcoming back some players who had been sidelined, Cook liked the effort she got in the loss to Chatham.
“We are going to play them at the end of the month and I think it is going to be a good matchup then too,” said Cook. “It will be a good measurement for us to see if we have improved and hopefully we will.”
Starting the tournament with a 5-1 win over Summit High on Saturday was a good sign for the Panthers.
“Going into the weekend, we definitely wanted to get it back on track with a win; we had lost a bunch before the break while we were shorthanded,” said Cook, noting that such key performers as senior Sasha Sindhwani, junior Ellie Schofield, sophomore Madeline Chia, senior Flynn Gorman, and junior Caroline Haggerty have all been sidelined at various points this winter.
“We wanted to make sure that we had a good effort and we did that yesterday so that took the pressure off a little but we still really wanted to win this game today. We knew that we have some players that have to get their game legs back.”
With some big games on the horizon as PDS is slated to host Rye Country Day (N.Y.) on January 10 and Randolph High on January 15 as part of a busy month, Cook believes her team can get back on the winning track.
“We have some tests ahead but I think we have some chances to build our confidence,” said Cook. “Hopefully we will have some good practices as well in there. I would like to have a winning record at the end of the month so will will see if we can get there.”
Wexler, for her part, is confident that the Panthers can pass those tests.
“We want to get a couple of wins against some teams that have given us a tough time in the past,” asserted Wexler.
“It would be great to get a win against Mo-Beard or Immaculate Heart; we are coming up soon against them. There are a lot of players who have never played before and they are all getting better everyday. It is really nice to see.”