It was the start of the holiday break, and the University School co-op girls’ hockey team celebrated.
The Wildcats certainly had plenty to celebrate Saturday afternoon at USM. They outshot the Beaver Dam/Randolph co-op team 50-4 on their way to a 10-1 victory in an Eastern Shores Conference game. They took a five-goal lead in the first period, scored three more goals in the second period and two more in the third while playing sound team hockey throughout the game. The only goal the Wildcats conceded came on a Beaver Dam power play early in the second period.
Junior Nicole Unsworth recorded a hat trick for the Wildcats. Freshman Hannah Neudorfer scored two goals, and senior Caitlin McBride, sophomores Hannah Gold and Carolyn Ells and freshmen Lexi Epperson and Gaby Turer scored a goal apiece for the victors. Alyssa Helm scored Beaver Dam’s solo goal.
“We played a good game tonight,” said Jake Haury, USM’s head coach. “After the first period, I told the girls to keep playing good fundamental hockey with good passing, good breakout plays, and good defense. I think the girls stuck together and did that. The girls supported each other and worked together to get this win as a team. We’ll need that kind of play going up against some tough competition in the weeks ahead.”
The Wildcats began their scoring early in the game. In center ice, Unsworth stepped between the opposing defensemen and picked off a D-to-D pass. She raced in on a breakaway and fired a low shot past Choe LaHaye, the opponents’ goalie at 2:50.
Unsworth scored again just over two minutes later. From the opponent’s blue line, Gold passed the puck to McBride near the top of the right circle. McBride took a step or two in and dropped the puck to Unsworth, who swirled past her into the slot. Unsworth pulled the puck around a defender then whipped a wrist shot over LaHaye’s blocker at 4:37.
Unsworth completed her natural hat trick less than a minute later. As the Wildcats forechecked, Turer got the puck in the right corner and sent it back to defenseman Delaney Weiss at the point. Weiss fired a shot at LaHaye. The puck rebounded to
the lower left circle where Unsworth was moving in. Unsworth swiftly gunned a shot into the net at 5:18.
The Wildcats scored two more goals late in the first period. They score the first of these at 14:50. Freshman Karly Lamoreaux cycled the puck to Neudorfer. In turn, Neudorfer passed it out to the point to Gold. Gold took a slap shot that flew like a well-aimed missile into the opponents’ net.
The Wildcats made it 5-0 at 15:17, when Epperson tipped in a low shot from the point by freshman Michaela Fritz.
The Wildcats increased their lead in the first minute of the second period. With her usual aplomb, McBride won the center ice faceoff and the Wildcats headed into their opponents’ zone. Unsworth ended up with the puck as the Wildcats passed it around. Unsworth passed it to junior Rachel Hoge at the point. Hoge drilled a low shot into LaHaye’s pads. The rebounded careened to Turer who zipped a shot into the net at 0:35.
Beaver Dam scored the game’s next goal on a power play. Taking a faceoff in the USM end, Sydney Brendemihl pushed the puck forward. Helm got it as she skated into the low circle. Helm fired a high shot over the shoulder of the Wildcats’ goaltender Juliana Strother at 3:11.
The Wildcats put the clock on running time for the rest of the game with a goal at 4:50 of the second period. Hoge got the puck at the top of the circle in the opponents’ zone and whistled a low shot at the net. The rebound bounced to McBride. Like she was slipping a present under the tree, McBride slid her shot into the net at 4:50.
Ells scored the first varsity goal of her career at 8:30 when Unsworth skated out from behind the net, swept into the circle and lined a crossing pass to Ells. Ells teed it up and knocked a fair shot on its way. It past LaHaye and went into the net.
Neudorfer scored the Wildcats’ final two goals in the third period. On the first, she fired in a rebound off a point shot by Hoge at 0:57.
Neudorfer’s second came at 11:46. The Wildcats were pressuring their opponents’ on the forecheck. The puck went to Weiss who fired it down low. Freshman Claire Ali got it and centered it into the low slot. Neudorfer wasted no time, slamming it in for the Wildcats’ final goal of the game.
The win improved USM’s record to 7-1-1overall and 3-0-1 in the Eastern Shores Conference. The Wildcats play Appleton in an Eastern Shores Conference game on Tuesday, December 22nd at USM.