Rivers’ girls’ ice hockey team won the 2015 NEPSAC Division II Championship by defeating Southfield 5-1 in the tournament finals at the Berkshire School on Sunday. On the way to their successful bid, the #1 seeded team beat the Gunnery 2-1 in the quarterfinals, and Berwick Academy 3-2 in the semifinals.
While the team has made it to tournament play every year for the past decade, this is the first time they have brought home the trophy.
“Although the girls led throughout the game, it still was very close,” said Director of Athletics Jim McNally. “The team led 1-0 at the end of the first period, and was up 2-1 at the end of the second. Then Southfield came out for the third period at a frenetic pace, but we were able to hold them off. Everyone, especially our goalie, freshman Meghan Gazard, was just fantastic.”
Within the first minute of the game, Sam Estes ’16 had an unassisted goal as she intercepted a clearing pass and split two defenders, sending a shot into the upper right corner of the net. In the second period, Alice Pingeon ’16 scored the second goal with assists from Lyndsey Smith ’15 and Missy Segall ’17.
In the third period, Lorraine Byrne ’17 scored her first goal of the season driving hard to the net and picking up a rebound off of the Southfield goalie from senior Jordan Cross’s shot. Emily Smith ’18 scored the fourth goal with assists from Jenna Letterie ’18 and Maddy McEachern ’16. The final goal was scored by Erin Connolly ’15, after she picked up the puck in the neutral zone and skated through the opponents’ defense to score unassisted.
“We approached the final play-off game thinking that we would keep everything simple and support each other out on the ice,” commented head coach Malcolm Spurling. “If we executed our systems and worked hard, we knew we would be successful.
“The team had played pretty consistently throughout the season and continued to play strong and confident throughout the tournament. We talked about paying attention to detail in everything that we did on the ice, and that attention really paid off.
“I give credit to the team and their leadership for listening and working hard throughout the season in our practices, and their commitment to playing our systems in all three zones on the ice. I am proud of my players and coaches for their perseverance and hard work, which has led to their success.”
Jordan Cross ’15, who co-captained the team with Laura Schmidlein ’15 and Erin Connolly ’15, was named MVP of the tournament.
Also in the NEPSAC tournaments this year were boys’ basketball which played Beaver in the quarterfinals, girls’ basketball which beat New Hampton 57-43 in the quarterfinals and advanced to the semi-finals against Tabor (40-59), and boys’ hockey which beat Tilton 3-2 and advanced to the semi-finals against Westminster (2-4).