Alexa Matses ’18
Goalie Alexa Matses ’18 broke onto the Andover Girls Hockey scene with a 21-save shutout performance in the team’s 3-0 win over Phillips Exeter Academy last year. Since her debut, she has gained a reputation for success in big games.
Competing in-net during two games of the Patsy K. Odden Invitational Tournament, Matses’s consistently strong performance played a crucial role in Andover’s tournament victory.
Matses was a force from the start of the tournament in Andover’s game against Tabor’s talented team, saving 38 shots and only allowing one goal in regulation time. Despite Matses’s efforts, Andover fell in a shootout. In another start against Loomis Chaffee, she again allowed only one goal, securing the victory for her team.
Goalie Ashley Tucker ’18, who played the other two games in net, said, “Against Tabor, Alexa kept us in the game even when we were getting outplayed, which made it really close and gave us a chance to win even though we did not come out victorious in the end. The next day against Loomis, she played really well again and played an integral role in that win against a really good team. Both of those games helped us get to the championship, and they were also both great contributions to our overall league record.”
Head Coach Martha Fenton wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “Alexa played two tremendous games against two of the top teams in the league [Tabor and Loomis] and only allowed one goal in each game. She gave us the win we needed in the final game of pool play to advance to the finals. We could not have asked any more of her. Just as importantly, she was incredibly supportive of Ashley and the rest of the team in the two games she did not play.”
Teammate Meggan Rodriguez ’17 also credited Matses with a major role in the team’s victories.
“Whenever we had bad moments, whether it be miscommunicating or giving up turnovers in the neutral zone, she was always there, serving as our backbone. If it wasn’t for her, all our mistakes would have been too much and resulted in a loss. She kept her calm in tough situations,” said Rodriguez.
Along with her tremendous tournament performance, Matses plays a very important role in the team’s success during the regular season. As one of Andover’s commanding leaders on the ice, Matses is particularly proficient in using her voice to communicate with her teammates. With the ability to see the whole rink, she is loud and vocal with the defense.
Co-Captain Kasey Welch ’16 said, “On the ice, she is such a strong player and inspires everybody else to play better. She leads the defensive side of the ice by telling us what the defensive needs, and she is great at vocalizing what needs to be done at certain moments. Even though she’s really young, her talent as a goalie allows her to be a very vocal and confident figure in net.”
Coach Fenton said, “Alexa is quiet off the ice, but a fierce competitor when she gets in net. [She] is a great communicator on the ice. She really directs the team in the defensive zone.”
Matses said, “I make sure to talk to the defense and tell them what to do. I’m loud, especially if they do not see something and I can.”
Matses’s talent is attributed to her work ethic, devotion to the game and love for her position. She began playing goalie in fifth grade and has evolved into a star player for Andover.
Coach Fenton said, “Alexa has worked year-round to develop herself as a hockey goalie, and it is that work ethic and devotion to the sport, along with a great deal of talent, that has gotten her so far.”
Welch said, “[Matses] works very hard, and she has a really great mindset. She gets in the zone and is so focused. She shows up to play every single game, every single practice. She knows what she has to do and tries her very best to get it done.”
With Matses on the ice, Andover knows it can play aggressively and confidently against any opponent, while relying on her to be the rock in net.
Ashley Tucker ’18
One of the first times Ashley Tucker ’18 had a puck launched at her, she was on concrete. Facing off against her older brother, Tucker took the net as a goalie when the two played street hockey, fostering a love for the position amid the onslaught of shots she faced.
Since skating for the first time at four-years old and beginning to play for her town team at age five, Tucker’s love for the game and the goalie position remains steadfast.
After playing as a forward for a while on her club team, the East Coast Wizards, she made the transition to goalkeeper. Previously, the position had been a rotation, with each member of the team alternating along the schedule, but Tucker soon decided she wanted to stay in net permanently.
With Tucker in net, the Wizards reached two National Championships and won one.
At Andover, Tucker is a tri-varsity athlete, with letters in Field Hockey, Girls Ice Hockey and Girls Lacrosse, and forms a formidable goalie tandem with Alexa Matses ’18.
Head Coach Martha Fenton wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “We are incredibly fortunate to have two very talented goalies on our team. Ashley loves to compete, and she is the kind of athlete who will go as hard as she can for her team 100 percent of the time. Ashley is always ready to play and loves to be in big-game situations. Both she and Alexa were rocks for us at the Taft tournament, with each only allowing one goal per game in our championship run.”
Tucker’s laser focus stands as the prevailing characteristic on the ice, always readying herself for the next shot from the opposing team. Whether she has or doesn’t have the help of a teammate in the defensive end, her focus enables her to make difficult stops.
Tucker sticks to a ritual to ensure a successful outing. At the beginning of every contest, she taps the posts and crossbar of her goal with her stick sequentially, before stepping out to the crease. She repeats this process at every faceoff in her end.
Teammate Emily Batchelor ’19 said, “She plays really aggressively, and she managed even with people crowding the net and kept her focus even when the puck wasn’t in our half or she couldn’t see it. That focus enabled her to rely on her skills and help us win the whole thing.”
Andover’s top forwards struggle to beat Tucker in one-on-one breakaways during practice.
Bri Fadden ’17 said, “Ashley is really good at coming out when people are nearing her and trying to deke her. She’s also really good up top with her glove and always stops really difficult shots.”
Although she is smaller than most goalies, Tucker relies on incredible agility and hand-eye coordination to protect the net. Co-Captain Kasey Welch ’16 said, “Her biggest strength is probably her speed in the net: what she lacks in size she makes up for in agility.”
Matses said, “[Tucker] works really hard, and never gives up on a play. She’s always willing to push a little harder and go the extra mile to make a save and is always solid in net. In practices and games, her work ethic definitely pushes me to go harder on myself.”
One of the best performances of Tucker’s Andover career thus far came in her performances in the Patsy K. Odden Invitational Tournament at Taft, which Andover won. Tucker surrendered only one goal in the championship game and turned in a 28-save performance earlier in the tournament against Taft, before blanking Andover’s opponents in a shootout.
Batchelor said, “In the tournament we had some shootouts, and Ashley was in goal when we faced Taft and there was a shootout, and she really stepped up and played so well. I don’t think they scored, and that was crucial to keep us in the tournament. To stop three people under so much pressure, that was awesome.”
Tucker said, “In the tournament, I was getting a lot of shots, which in a way I think made it easier to stay focused because there were never long periods of time where I didn’t have a shot to worry about. I think sometimes I play well when there is more pressure, and that was a really intense game, so it was easy to stay energized even through the shootouts.”
Andover has not lost a game with Tucker in net.