Skating down the ice, Abby Volo PG’19 faked out the goalie and buried the puck in the bottom corner of the goal to secure a 3-2 win for Andover Girls Hockey against Hotchkiss during the annual Taft Tournament. The tournament began on December 13, and, over the course of the week, Andover played Choate, Hotchkiss, Lawrenceville, and Kent, concluding the tournament with a 2-2 record. The team defeated Choate 3-1 and Hotchkiss 3-2 but fell to Lawrenceville 3-4 in a shootout and Kent 3-5.
The tournament took place over the last week of school before Winter Vacation, and provided an opportunity for the team to bond and get more playing experience before the remainder of the season.
Goalie Sophia Merageas ’20 proved a critical asset to the team throughout the tournament, and saved many crucial shots that could potentially have cost Andover the game, according to Bridget Santos ’21, Molly Macqueen ’21, and Captain Kelly McCarthy ’19.
McCarthy said, “Sophia Merageas, our goalie, played really well, had lots of saves, and always has a great performance. Also, when we were in a shootout against Hotchkiss, and shootouts are always tough, it’s one on one, one player one goalie and you never know how it’s going to turn out, but Abby Volo had a beautiful play and beautiful shot and helped us finish strong.”
The team demonstrated its strength especially when playing skilled teams like Kent. The players were not only able to keep up with Kent’s momentum but even surpassed them in a few instances, according to Santos and MacQueen.
MacQueen said, “Throughout the tournament I think we did a good job staying focused in games, we continued to play our game and stay consistent no matter if we were down or up. And during our game against Kent, we really pushed to stay at their level. Not only did we prove we could keep up with them but at certain points we could dominate them.”
Although the team played with power against Kent, it is still looking to improve on its “neutral zone regroup,” according to McCarthy.
McCarthy added, “One thing we’ve been trying to work on is our neutral zone regroup, bringing it back and attacking again, like if at first you don’t really see the offensive opportunity, get a little regroup going and attack with speed.… We’ve been focusing on our special teams, like power play, penalty kill, and our face-offs, and just trying to maximize our opportunities off of those.”
On Saturday, hockey defeated Big Dogs, a girls club hockey team from the greater Boston area, 6-0. Although it was a scrimmage against eighth graders, the team maintained its dominance and composure throughout the game. The scrimmage was an opportunity for Big Dogs to meet and be seen by prep school coaches. Following the game, Andover had dinner with Big Dogs to answer any questions they had.
Despite the young age of Big Dogs, their speed on the ice highlighted a few areas for improvement for Andover, according to MacQueen and Santos.
MacQueen said, “I think we need to improve on our consistency and discipline in all three zones. Because we were stronger and were playing against younger kids we were developing a lot of offense in the offensive zone so when they broke it out we weren’t really playing up to par to where we usually are in our defensive zone.”
On Monday, Andover faced Brooks at home, ending in a 1-1 tie game.
Santos said, “It was tied [0-0] until about halfway through, and they scored. So we were down for a little bit, but in the beginning half of the third period one of our defensemen and Captain Erin Kelley ’19 scored an absolutely beautiful goal. It was a one timer slapshot from the blue line and it was a great moment.”
Captain Emily Batchelor ’19 also proved a key player with her quick passes up the ice, according to Santos.
Santos said, “Emily had a really good game. She had a lot of quick one touch passes which moved the puck up the ice with increasing speed. She also won a lot of good battles on the boards and used her speed to get it out of zone.”
The team looks to continue improving its speed of play and utilize fast players more on the ice, according to Santos.
Santos said, “As a team, I thought were really put forth a good effort throughout the entire game. I think we need to improve our speed of play, which I think will be an easy transition if we are willing to do it. We have some really speedy players and I think we need learn how to utilize that speed and to support the puck and make quicker decisions.”
Andover Girls Hockey will next face St. Paul’s away this Saturday.