The Girls Independent School League continues to churn out championship contenders, boasting three of the four New England finalists a year ago, including both champions.
The other finalist was Brooks (17-9-1), which should be amongst the frontrunners again this winter, with the majority of last year’s club back.
Top scorer Julia Nearis has transferred to Kent, but some good offense will come from seniors Tess Martin and Mairi Anthony, junior Teagan Canning and sophomores Madeline Shea, Caroline O’Keefe and Caroline Cutter.
Defensively, coach Lori Charpentier will rely on seniors Gabi Hillner and Emma Martin, juniors Emma English and Millicent Brady, and sophomores Amanda Monahan and Ashley Houlihan.
The Bishops return #1 goalie Caroline Kukas, a sophomore, and junior Leah Rosenbaum.
An early-season trip to Minnesota (where they will play Shattuck St. Mary’s) and a game in January against Nobles at Fenway Park highlight the schedule for BB&N (15-11-2), which will be in the mix for a D1 playoff spot.
At forward, seniors Shannon Griffin (36 pts) and Kate Piacenza (16 pts) will be catalysts. Among the newcomers looking to compete for coach Ed Bourget are sophomore Jori Balsam and freshmen Jenna Hallice and Maya Mangiafico.
Senior Nell Fusco (13 pts) and Jules Kennedy (17 pts) are two solid defensemen for the Knights. The group welcomes sophomore Lauren Jackson, while eighth-graders Dehlia Fallon and Mia Biotti hope to make a splash.
A pair of freshmen – Victoria Kennedy and Danielle Bernstein – look for time in the nets for BB&N.
A late-season swoon quickly ended the playoff hopes of Governors Academy (8-15-0) last season, Eleven players are back, including six seniors, that want to make sure that won’t happen again.
Key players for coach Babe Ceglarski include senior forwards Erin Daly (24 pts), Flora English (14 pts) and Courtney Pierre (26 pts), along with junior Hannah Walsh (16 pts).
New junior Olivia Petito will battle for the starting goaltender’s job.
Groton (12-14-0) looks to make some noise amongst the Division 2 teams in the loop with a solid returning core.
Senior Piper Higgins, junior Angelina Joyce and sophomore Lily Delaney will be leaders up front for coach Randi Dumont. New sophomore Chloe White looks to have an impact.
On defense, senior ChaCha McLean and sophomore Bridget Cornell are key returners. Look for freshman Emma Beard to have a role.
The goaltending duties will fall on returning junior Dongmin Sin and new sophomore Sara Glawe.
With its top three scorers back, Lawrence Academy (13-11-4) should be able to score. The key will be a young defense and goaltending play.
Senior and Quinnipiac commit Laura Lindblad (38 pts) keys the offensive attack for coach Kevin Potter, along with senior Kelsey Ryan (27 pts), senior Emily Lanci and junior Corinne McCool (20 pts). Looking to contribute are new sophomore Mia Fusco (a transfer from BB&N) and freshman Alyssa Berardino.
On the blue line, senior Rachel Walsh and sophomore Erika Lizotte are key holdovers for the Spartans. The group will welcome new junior Lyndsey McNeill, sophomore Jamie Comeau and freshman Eryn Taber.
Lawrence will go with a pair of new goalies in junior Maddox Angerhoffer (a transfer from St. Paul’s) and sophomore Shelby Guinard.
Things should be on the upswing at Middlesex (4-17-0), where a talented group of new younger players will bolster the roster.
Returning forwards for coach Kate Hession are seniors Sage Nye and Jacqueline White, and sophomores Kylie Quinlan and Carly Kreytak. Three new freshmen that bear watching are Lola Davis, Ali Joseph and Kiley Briand.
The Zebras have junior Itsy Seeman and sophomores Lily Jarrett and Ang DeVellis back on defense. Freshmen Nicky Roark and Riley Galizio will look for time.
In goal, returning junior Caroline Silk and freshman Daisy Boynton will handle the chores.
Milton Academy (16-12-0) made some great strides last winter and got itself a playoff berth. Hope is to return to the post-season again in 2017.
Coach Ryan Stone will rely on the senior duo of Jen Costa (24 pts) and Maria DiMartinis (22 pts) to spearhead the Mustangs offense. Sophomore Christine Cadigan is another key returner up front.
Junior Clair Dudley and sophomore Mary Thompson will be bookend blueliners. Milton also returns a pair of varsity goaltenders in senior Hannah Congdon and sophomore Maggie Emerson.
Defending Division 1 New England champion Nobles (31-1-1) has a good group back from a team that finished the season on a 31-game winning streak.
Senior Becca Gilmore (39 pts), a Harvard commit, was an All New England selection last winter. Also back are senior Danielle Brown (21 pts), juniors Katie Tresca (27 pts) and Abby Volo, sophomores Maddie Bayard and Courtney Hyland, and freshman Casey O’Brien (23 pts).
Four defensemen return for coach Tom Resor, including senior Bridget Doherty, junior Stephanie Nomicos and sophomores Lily Farden and Rose O’Connor.
The Bulldawgs also return junior Kelly Pickreign between the pipes.
Despite having a big group back, Rivers (13-8-1) will be on the young side. But, the Red Wings will be talented.
Forwards coach Malcolm Spurling will count on are senior Missy Segall (17 pts), juniors Emily Smith (12 pts) and Jenna Letterie (15 pts), and sophomore Kaitlin Shaughnessy (14 pts). Lorraine Byrne, Zoe Brown, Kasey Cunningham and Camille Phelan also return.
Four sophomores – Leslie Schwartz, Megan Lally, Kaitlyn Nadeau and Caroline Grady – all are back on the blue line. Newcomers Lily Branka and Julia Hitti want to contribute.
In goal, junior Meghan Gazard saw considerable action last winter. Senior Michelle Ryder is back as well.
The Division 2 New England champion was St. George’s (17-7-1), which hopes to plug in to fill some key losses and keep the momentum of last season going for another year.
Offensive production will come from seniors Mia DelRosso (17 pts) and returning juniors Madison Tregenza (19 pts) and Hannah Drechsel. New forwards hoping to impress are sophomore Olivia Mastrangelo and freshman Mary Leys.
Defense should be a strongpoint for the Dragons with the return of seniors Carolyn Drowne (16 pts) and Hayley Doneghey, and junior Madi Aumann.
In goal, coach Hannah O’Brien can go with either returning junior Hailey Martin, or new freshman Mia Gardner.
St. Mark’s (15-7-3) had a good amount of success last year, and if the team can remain disciplined in the defensive zone, the Lions could challenge for a playoff spot.
Coach Casey Pickett will lean on senior Jess Adams (17 pts) and juniors Lindsey Dumond (20 pts) and Caroline Peterson (22 pts) for offensive production. All three recenty announced commitments: Adams to Elmira, Dumond to UNH and Peterson to Providence. New junior Marlee Peterson and freshmen Gabby Womble, Emma Viens and Helen Huang hope to crack the lineup.
Junior Lizzie Provost will have a key role on the blue line. New sophomore Bailey Horne will have a role.
And in goal, freshman Lydia Rascher hopes to see a lot of time.
One season removed from a D1 New England title, St. Paul’s (18-6-1) returns a solid core, and has an impressive cast coming in, meanding the Pelicans will be tough to beat.
Senior Finley Frechette and senior Isabel Stoddard will be looked upon for leadership up front. New junior Brianna Hill, and a quartet of promising freshman – Gabby Roy, Natalie Tulchinsky, Eliza Farriss and Tiffany Hill – will give coach Heather Farrell a lot of options.
Senior Madison Mahre and senior Caitlyn Wilkin are cornerstones on defense. New sophomore Phoebe Day looks for key minutes on the blue line.
Senior Peri Donaldson is primed to take over as full time goalie for the Pelicans.
Thayer (10-12-1) has seen some good improvement the past couple of seasons and coach Brian Cibelli is looking for that trend to continue.
A good nucleus to lead will include senior forwards Darby Melia (23 pts, Brown commit) and Katy Meehan (33 pts), and junior forward Caroline Skillman (12 pts). Junior goalie Emily Smith returns for the Tigers.