February 24, 2021

Relishing Final Season for PDS Girls’ Hockey, Senior Henderson Stars in Win Over Westfield

ON TARGET: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Maisie Henderson controls the puck in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior forward Henderson tallied two goals to help PDS top Westfield 4-0 and improve to 5-0. In upcoming action, the Panthers are scheduled to host Trinity Hall on February 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Maisie Henderson grinned through her Bauer gray face mask after the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team defeated Westfield High 4-0 last Wednesday.

With PDS having last played an official game when it defeated Chatham 7-3 on January 28, senior forward Henderson and her teammates were excited to welcome Westfield to McGraw Rink.

“It is awesome having the opportunity to be able to play, especially as a senior,” said Henderson, who scored a pair of goals in the victory as the Panthers improved to 5-0.

“It is really cool. Although there are definitely some restrictions and we can’t play a full schedule. It is definitely nice to have the opportunity to play one last year.”

It has been particularly cool for Henderson to get a chance this winter to play one last season for PDS since she had moved to New England for her junior year.

“I lived in Nantucket Massachusetts last year; last year was the first time they had a girls’ varsity hockey team,” said Henderson.

“It was a nice thing to be part of and help start that program. We didn’t really know until May that I was coming back for sure. I am really happy that I was able to come back to have a senior season here.”

Henderson was happy to find the back of the net twice against Westfield.

“One of my teammates put the puck my way and there was no defense there; I saw the goalie standing pretty tall so her legs were open and I just shot it through her legs nice and low,” said Henderson, reflecting on her first goal which opened the scoring 2:05 into the contest.

“On my second goal, I was just standing in front of the net. I was wide open and Hailey [Wexler] just passed the puck to me and I just tapped it to me. We have been best friends for a while so it is nice playing with her.”

While getting the win was nice, Henderson acknowledged that PDS could have scored more goals.

“We haven’t played in three weeks; we haven’t had an actual game in a little while so you could tell we were a little rusty,” said Henderson. “I think overall we played pretty well.”

With the Panthers off to a 5-0 start, things have been going very well overall.

“We have a lot of good underclassmen and a lot of very experienced players,” said Henderson.

“I think this is the deepest team I have been on at this school. It is good for the future. We don’t have to worry about the future of the team.”

Reflecting on her PDS experience, Henderson believes that she has gained a maturity that will help her down the road.

“It is definitely cool to come full circle; to see how I have grown since being a freshman and how we have all grown as a team,” said Henderson.

“It is cool to be able to take what I was taught when I was younger and now teach the younger girls. It has taught me a lot, on and off the ice. I have learned how to become a leader and mentor younger girls. It is going to be helpful no matter where I end up.”

Panther head coach John Ritchie credits Henderson with influencing the Panthers at both ends of the ice.

“Maisie is a great two-way player; she has really developed and matured since she was a freshman,” said Ritchie.

“She is very calm. Whether it is defensively or offensively, she is not flashy, she is just a hard worker. She goes to the right spots. She deserves it and I am glad for the seniors that we have a couple of games left and she had a couple of goals.”

Like Henderson, Ritchie believed that PDS should have been more productive around the goal against the Blue Devils.

“I give Westfield’s goalie [Alexis Scherzer] a lot of credit; she played really well,” said Ritchie who also got goals from Hailey Wexler and freshman Emily McCann in the contest.

“She had 50 shots on net so she made a lot of saves. I look at it from our perspective, we have got to be more efficient. I didn’t think we got to the secondary chances enough. But I also chalk it up to the fact that we haven’t played a game in three weeks with snow days and stuff. Now granted we practiced a ton but it has been tough. So I think we were just rusty today coming into the game.”

The Panthers were tough around the blue line, limiting Westfield to 10 shots on goal, sparked by having starting goalie Jillian Wexler skating out on the defensive unit.

“We did well defensively; we moved Jillian back to defense today,” said Ritchie.

“It will probably be her last game playing out. She gave us a little more push going forward. The defense had been doing a good job all year. Of the 10 shots that Westfield got, I think two or three threatened a little more than they should have. They had one in the first period, I think it was the first shot. I thought from my
vantage point that it went in. Fortunately, they thought otherwise. Defensively, we are doing well.”

Even though PDS may not have done as well offensively as Ritchie would have hoped, he had no qualms with the effort he got from his players.

“They all work hard, it is something I can never be upset with them after a game about,” said Ritchie.

“I would just like to see us be a little more efficient but with a season like this, there is only so much you can do. You can’t worry about it.”

With just a couple of weeks left in the 2021 season, Ritchie is hoping that his squad will get the chance to face some more hard foes.

“Our mindset and our progression is that we want to match the teams that are at the top so we are trying to schedule Summit, we are trying to schedule
Mo-Beard,” said Ritchie, whose team is slated to host Trinity Hall on February 24.

“We will see what happens. That is where we want to be, amongst the conversation with those teams that have been good for a while. We definitely have to be better than we were today but today we were good enough.”

Henderson, for her part, is looking to make the most of everyday she gets on the ice for PDS, no matter what happens.

“I think it is take each game by game; theoretically that could have been our last game, you never know,” said Henderson.

“Things can get canceled in a second. You prepare for future games but we also want to stay in the present and just focus on being with the team now.”