The Princeton Day School Girls Varsity Ice Hockey team has embraced this winter's shortened season, notching an undefeated 5-0 record to date. The team has won on the back of a strong offense and team depth, scoring a whopping 33 goals and allowing just six goals against.
Head Coach John Ritchie entered this year, his second as head coach and fourth with the program, with the primary goal of safely navigating through an unorthodox season.
"The team has been great about maintaining their masks on and off the ice and all have a unified attitude about getting through this together. We have collectively emphasized that we have to remain focused on the things we can control on a daily basis," Coach Ritchie shared.
The team has embraced the themes of focusing and making the most of their time on the ice, which has fostered development throughout the team and success during games. As a result, the team has consistently and relentlessly attacked opponents on offense throughout games while competing with some of the best teams in the state.
The team has benefited from the strong leadership of its five seniors, who have all played together at PDS for four years: Madeline Chia '21, Maisie Henderson '21, Hannah Choe '21, Hailey Wexler '21 and Jillian Wexler '21.
"These senior athletes are all talented players and leaders in their own ways. Perhaps more important than how they produce on the ice, they have also worked hard to create an inclusive atmosphere within our varsity sport," Coach Ritchie remarked.
Chia has lettered all four years as a varsity player and is credited as being a great teammate whose dedication helps bring the team together. Henderson has started for three years and serves as an Assistant Captain this year. She has scored 28 career points while playing strong defense as a two-way player. Choe has started all four years and has served as an Assistant Captain for the last two years. She has scored 28 points and is known for her toughness and selflessness as a leader.
Not many teams have twin standouts, but seniors Hailey and Jillian Wexler will be long remembered as among the School's best. Hailey Wexler has started for three years and serves as the team's Captain this year. She has scored 46 career points and is credited for her great leadership. "Hailey truly leads by example and her teammates follow her lead. She has grown to be a great role model during her four years," Coach Ritchie noted. Jillian Wexler has started for four years and has made a tremendous impact on the team both in goal and up the ice. For her career, she has made 1606 saves in 58 career games, for a goals-against average of 2.72 and save percentage of .910. She has also contributed 16 offensive points. Jillian was also recognized as First-team All-State last year. "Jillian is the ultimate competitor. She constantly strives to be the best and helps to push and elevate everyone around her," Coach Ritchie said.
Offensively, the team is paced by Ally Antonacci '22, Lauren Chase '23 and Henderson, who share the team lead for goals this season with five. Altogether, twelve different players have combined for the team's 33 total goals this year, which speaks to the depth and development throughout the lineup. In goal, Abby Ashman '23 has done a great job in net while splitting time with Jillian. Ashman has made 42 saves on the year in her four games played, registering two wins.
Looking forward, the depth of the team is a great sign of things to come for the program. Coach Ritchie also believes that the experience this season is something that will pay dividends in the future, both on and off the ice.
"More now than ever, we are learning about empathy and caring for others while doing so within a competitive sport. These are life lessons that the athletes will be able to learn and take with them as they grow as individuals. We are all trying to make the best of the situation we are presented with and we are learning lessons in overcoming adversity. I am extremely proud of what the team has accomplished this season," Coach Ritchie concluded.
Update: After celebrating each of the team's seniors pre-game, the team battled with Trinity Hall to a 2-2 tie, concluding this winter season with a 5-0-1 record.
Ally Antonacci '22, Nora Appleby '23, Abigail Ashman '23, Frances Bobbitt '22, Natalie Celso '22, Lauren Chase '23, Madeline Chia '21, Hannah Choe '21, Isabel Cook '24, Franny Gallagher '22, Logan Harrison '24, Maisie Henderson '21, Danielle Im '23, Colleen Mayer '24, Emily McCann '24, Julia Miranda '24, Courtney Richter '22, Lily Ryan '24, Ceci Scheil '24, Elena Sichel '24, Elizabeth Thomas '22, Hailey Wexler '21, Jillian Wexler '21, Natalie Willner '24,Rebecca Willner '22
1/21 vs. Princeton High School: W 11-2
1/22 vs. Oak Knoll: W 6-0
1/25 vs. Princeton High School: W 5-1
1/28 vs. Chatham-Madison: W 7-3
2/17 vs. Westfield: W 4-0
2/22 vs. Trinity Hall: T 2-2
Check the team page for more information on the Girls Varsity Hockey program.
Photos (from top): Ally Antonacci taking a shot; Lauren Chase handling the puck; Jillian Wexler in goal (courtesy of "The Trentonian")