December 6, 2017

Featuring a Roster Stocked With Young Players, PDS Girls’ Hockey Has Room for Growth

GOAL ORIENTED: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Julie Patterson goes after the puck in a game last season. Junior forward Patterson scored two goals as PDS topped Pingry 7-2 in its season opener on November 28. The Panthers, who moved to 1-1 with a 6-1 loss to Morristown-Beard last Friday, host Hill School (Pa.) on December 6 and Rye Country Day (N.Y.) on December 8 before playing at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on December 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With just two seniors on its roster this winter, the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team is going to be a work in progress.

“We have a really good group, they are really good to each other and they are really supportive already so it is a good start,” said PDS head coach Lorna Cook, who guided the Panthers to a 15-11-1 record last season.

“It is just that we have a very young team so it has been going back to the basics a little bit from the beginning and hopefully they can take it from there.”

One of the squad’s young stars, sophomore Gia Massari, moved to defenseman from forward to help bolster that unit.

“We needed her to solidify that group back there, we talked about it a couple of months ago as a possibility,” said Cook of Massari, who tallied two goals and two assists as PDS defeated Pingry 7-2 on November 28.

“She has been really good about it. I believe she is playing defense for her travel team right now as well. She is just a good player, she is so smart.”

Sophomores Caroline Haggerty and Annabel Thomas along with freshman Hannah Choe make up the rest of the defensive group.

“Caroline is a really good field hockey player and you can see that on the ice,” said Cook.

“Annabel has been playing hockey for a good amount, she knows what to do. We also have a new defenseman, Hannah, she is playing for the Tiger Lilies right now. She has a great attitude.”

Freshman Jillian Wexler has displayed a positive attitude as she has stepped in at goalie, succeeding four-year starter Annika Asplundh.

“Jillian has a lot of fun with it, she always has a smile on her face,” said Cook. “She is very athletic. She has only been playing goalie for three years but she was a forward before that so she is a really good skater. She is so feisty and you see that on the ice. She is not going to give up on the rebounds.”

The Panthers boast a trio of battle-tested forwards in junior Julie Patterson along with seniors Sam Dwyer and Emma Latham.

“You don’t see that many girl hockey players who love to score goals and Julie has that mentality,” said Cook.

“We get on her about moving the puck and she is finding a good balance with it. Sam is going to have to play a really good defensive forward for us but also find times to get opportunities on offense too. She should get on the power play for us. Latham has really stepped it up being one of the two seniors this year as far as being a lot more vocal than she has been. I have seen a lot of growth in her on and off the ice in her time at PDS.”

Cook is looking for growth from several other returners in her corps of forwards as she welcomes back junior Sasha Sindhwani, junior Bryn Aprill, junior Flynn Gorman, sophomore Brianna Astbury, sophomore Ellie Schofield, and junior Rebecca Tang.

“Sasha just works hard, you can tell that she is an athlete; I have high hopes for her being one of those part-time hockey players who are going to be able to come in and contribute,” said Cook of Sindhwani, the leading scorer this fall for the PDS field hockey team.

“Bryn doesn’t have a lot of size but she gives every bit that she has. She is really aggressive. Flynn is a junior this year and is back. Bri is a soccer player, it is her second year playing. She is really smart, she knows where she is supposed to be so I am hoping she will improve a lot this year. Ellie will play a lot for us and is a standout lacrosse player as well. Rebecca just started playing hockey last year and she loves it.”

In addition, freshman forward Maisie Henderson figures to improve a lot as the season unfolds.

“I think Maisie is one who is always going to be in the mix for us,” said Cook, who is also using freshmen Aaliyah Shayed and Madeline Chia at forward.

“We will probably have her on the wing, just to make it a little bit easier for her. She has a pretty good shot, she knows where to be so I am just pushing her to be better.”

In Cook’s view, her players need to keep pushing to be better on a daily basis in order to produce a big winter.

“It is just focusing on continuing to improve; not worrying so much about individual game results but just making sure that we are putting in the effort,” said Cook, whose team moved to 1-1 with a 6-1 loss to Morristown-Beard last Friday and hosts Hill School (Pa.) on December 6 and Rye Country Day (N.Y.) on December 8 before playing at the Portledge School (N.Y.) on December 11.

They want to work hard, they want to get better for each other and they want to have fun so keeping things positive all year is a big thing for us.”