With a record of 14-7-1, Andover Girls Hockey is looking to beat Phillips Exeter Academy to better its chances at clinching a spot in the Elite 8 bracket for playoffs. With last year’s 2-1 victory, Andover has been undefeated against Exeter for the last six years.
According to Anne Averill ’23, the game against Exeter will determine the team’s bracket and rank for playoffs. With this added incentive, the team has a better understanding of what it will take to win.
Averill said, “We’re looking to be in the top eight for the Elite 8 Playoffs, which is the best tournament that you can be in. We have to win our next game which means that we have to beat Exeter to stay in the Elite 8, otherwise we’re going to be in the large school playoffs… I feel like we understand that now, whereas at the beginning of the season, we took a few games too lightly and felt like we could just walk through them. Now everyone understands that this is the last playoffs push, and we’re ready to make it.”
Andover will need to work on their offensive strategies to counter Exeter’s aggressive and consistent defense, according to Rachel Neyman ’22.
Neyman said, “I still think that we need to work a little bit more on our power plays. I wouldn’t say we’re nervous about it, but it’s definitely something we can work on heading into Exeter so that we can have a consistent power play. Exeter makes nice passes and they have a strong defense, so we’re going to have to work hard in the offensive zone to work well with each other. They’re also an aggressive team. All of the players know how to use their bodies and shield you from the puck.”
In preparation for Exeter, Andover has deliberately focused on the mental aspect of the game, according to Averill.
“I think that one of our main focuses in the last couple of games has been being prepared. We’ve been trying to get to the rink early and start thinking about the game in the morning so that when we hit the ice, we’re as mentally ready as possible and that translates to being physically ready as well,” said Averill.
According to Co-Captain Sophia Merageas ’20, having not faced Exeter at home since 2018, Andover plans to ride the energy from family, friends, and fans to a victory.
Merageas said, “Playing at home is definitely going to help our team. We feed off of excitement from the fans and from our parents and friends, so having a lot of support and enthusiasm at the rink is going to be huge for us. I think we’ll flourish at our home ice, and hopefully that will lead to success.”
Andover will host Exeter this Saturday at 2:00 p.m.