With the temperature falling and the winter sports season in full swing, the girls ice hockey team is ready for another year as one of two public girls ice hockey teams in New Jersey. This season, however, is one that will see the team overcome the obstacles of losing many seniors and keeping up with other schools while having only a few practices a week at extremely early times.
“It’s definitely been tough,” said Co-Captain Sophie Corrodi ’16, a defenseman. “Those girls that graduated were probably some of our strongest players. We are working really hard with our returning players and the freshmen that are trying out the sport for the first time.”
Despite having many new faces on the squad this year, the team values bonding and teamwork throughout the whole lineup. “With this team, whether you are the number one player or the last person to make the team, everyone gels together as if they are one,” said Head Coach Christian Herzog. “Unlike many other teams that I have been a part of, there are no cliques.”
Last season, seven seniors led the team to a historic season that saw the Little Tigers win half of their games and place fourth in the Women’s Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic, a league with mostly private schools. The team saw competition with some of the top teams in the league, such as the Portledge School, Morristown-Beard Academy, and Shady Side Academy. Overall, it was one of the most successful seasons in the past five years.
This season, the team knows that there are benefits of having fewer players, even with the loss of seniors.
“It just means we are a smaller team,” said Elizabeth Wright ’16, a forward. “We are closer this year and everyone is bonding. We are excited because we have a lot of new kids that are learning the game.” The team is composed of four freshmen, two sophomores, three juniors and three seniors.
This year’s team features six upperclassmen who will lead by example. Senior Callie Ursiko is the team’s netminder for her fourth and final season. Co-Captains Sophie Corrodi, Maggie Herring, a forward ‘17 and Isabelle Sohn ‘16, a forward, are among the team’s most experienced players. It is Christian Herzog’s ninth season as the head coach.
The team this season is younger and less experienced than last year. Many new players on the team came from other sports, such as field hockey and lacrosse. There are also new players trying out ice hockey for the first time. These players that are new to the sport are working on the fundamentals of hockey to get caught up to speed.
“With our loss of seniors I think it is very important for us to show that we are still a competitive team,” Corrodi said. “I think it would be great to win the state cup against Summit, something that we haven’t done for the past six years.”
In contrast to its private school competitors, the team does not have access to its own rink. Therefore, ice time can be hard to come by, so practices are at 6:30 in the morning. The girls see this as a token of their dedication.
“We get up so early because we love this sport, as opposed to other students at private schools who might play because it is the only sport available,” Wright said. “They will choose to play hockey because their team practices after school and it is convenient. It shows how dedicated we are by waking up so early.”
The girls opened this season with a 7-2 loss against Summit High School on December 9th. Maggie Herring, the team’s leading goal scorer from a year ago, scored the team’s two goals in the defeat. A loss to local rival Princeton Day School followed on the 16th. Co-Captain Isabelle Sohn believes this season is about more than just the wins and losses column.
“I think a big goal for this season is to have a lot of fun and just to play some really good hockey. We have a very close group of girls and while winning is always nice, we are always looking to make sure that we keep getting better, work on what we need to work on, and have fun.”
“The girls have this motto that really defines who we are as a team,” Herzog said. “Wherever we go, we walk together.”