With 22 seconds left in the third period of the championship game, Meggan Rodriguez ’17 scored the tying goal off a scramble at the net, sending Andover Girls Hockey into overtime against Lawrenceville. Charlotte Welch ’18 proceeded to score the game-winning goal just 41 seconds into overtime, securing Andover’s first place win in the Patsy K. Odden Invitational Tournament at Taft over Winter Break.
Throughout the first two periods and long into the third, the championship game was scoreless, until Lawrenceville took the lead with 3:13 left to play. Instead of cracking under the pressure of a last-minute setback, Andover pulled its goalie with 2:28 left on the clock in order to have an extra skater on the ice. In a quick payoff, Rodriguez’s goal ended up stealing the victory.
“The amazing thing was that the girls really didn’t look fazed by being down with so little time left. I think that having had three overtime games already gave them the confidence and poise they needed,” said Head Coach Martha Fenton ’83.
Although Andover opened the tournament with a 2-1 loss to Tabor in overtime, the team rebounded quickly with victories against Taft, Loomis Chaffee and Lawrenceville. Goalies Alexa Matses ’18 and Ashley Tucker ’18 both played crucial roles in the team’s success.
Co-Captain Kasey Welch ’16 said, “Alexa and Ashley are two extremely talented players, but they played especially spectacularly during this tournament, and there is not a single doubt in my mind that the result of the tournament would not have been as strong if they hadn’t been so amazing. Their phenomenal playing inspired the team to keep playing their hardest even when the scoreboard wasn’t reflecting the effort we were putting in.”
Both goalies allowed only two regulation goals each in the entire tournament. Even more impressively, Matses totalled 78 saves and Tucker made 49.
“Our goalies, Alexa and Ashley, played exceptionally and without them we would definitely not have made it nearly as far,” Charlotte Welch said.
Elizabeth Holubiak ’18 added, “Our goalies were a huge part of our success. Alexa and Ashley stood on their heads and kept us in those long games.”
In addition to Andover’s goalies, Charlotte Welch proved to be a critical player, scoring overtime goals in both the game against Taft and again in the championship match against Lawrenceville. Kasey Welch and Co-Captain Miranda Nestor ’16 also played essential roles, as they provided leadership and anchored the team throughout the tournament.
“Our Captains Kasey and Miranda kept us strong and positive in key situations, which kept up the focus and energy going into overtime and shootouts,” said Holubiak.
Kaitlin Hoang ’17 said, “Kasey and Miranda set the bar really high for our team.”
Overall, the teams at the tournament proved to be Andover’s toughest competition yet, but by playing as a unit throughout its four games, Andover was ultimately able to overcome the challenge and take first place.
“All of the teams in the tournament were very close in skill level, leading us to two shootouts. We had yet to play competition at that caliber during the season so the Tabor game came as a wake-up call. The other games of Taft, Loomis and Lawrenceville were all games that tested our grit,” said Kasey Welch.
Matses said, “The biggest part of success with us was our willingness to push through adversity, knowing the other teams were some of the most skilled in our league. We put out more fight and heart than the seemingly more skilled teams.”
Nestor said, “The best part about this tournament is that everyone played a key role, and we couldn’t have won without each and every player. We had a team mindset and picked each other up when we got down.”
After coming home with the trophy, Andover feels more confident moving into the rest of its season.
“On and off the ice, everyone brings something unique to the team, and this tournament was the beginning of what I know is going to be an unforgettable year,” said Kasey Welch.