Girls Prep Hockey – West Independents Preview: Williston Sets Out To Defend NE Title; Millbrook Excited For A Big Year

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos has been covering prep school hockey for the HNIB News for over 30 years, and has been the editor of the HNIB News since 2005. A former sportswriter and news editor at the Woburn (MA) Daily Times Chronicle, he has been the HNIB News' key reporter for Mens Prep School hockey since 1988, as well as womens hockey, both at the prep school and high school levels. for almost 20 years. Gary also helps organize and oversee HNIB's many summer tournaments and festivals for scholastic players.

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Independent Williston took home the NEPSAC Elite Tournament championship last winter and will be right in the mix. With a deep roster Millbrook is excited about the upcoming year. Northfield has a new head coach in Katie Simpson.

BERKSHIRE (6-14-3)

Coach: Lisa Marshall

The potential is there for the Bears to make some noise this winter. “We have experience at every position and players ready to grow into roles,” said coach Marshall.

The team returns junior Brooke Eselunas, who led the Bears in scoring a year ago. Returning after missing all of last year is junior Emma McGowan, a Yale commit. Senior Liz Della, junior Abby Eselunas and senior Cate McLean are back. Four new freshmen pressing from time are Sophia Busa (Mid Fairfield), Kate Petrie (Mid Fairfield), Izzy Blake (Bay State Breakers) and Alex Gregorek (Spitfires).

Senior Margaret Culkins and juniors Addie Frechette and Gracyn Kurrie return on the Berkshire blue line. New sophomores Emma Leahy (CT Jr Rangers) and Mairead Campbell (EC Wizards) provide quality depth.

In the nets, Abby Hornung has graduated, leaving the job to senior MK Braun and sophomore Julia Echavarris, both returning.


Coach: Molly Gintoli

Putting up goals on a more consistent basis will be a focus of the Saints, who will have some depth and experience.

Catalysts up front for second-year head coach Gintoli are seniors Riley McPhee and Amanda Regina, and sophomore Maya Lileika. New junior Gianna Pacilio (NJ Colonials) should be an immediate help. Freshman Maggie Samela (Westchester Express) has joined the program.

Senior Erin Flaherty (Manhattanville commit) and junior Maddie Diglio will bookend the Canterbury defense. Freshman Amanda Ranaudo (Polar Bears) will fight for time.

Noel Schaab, a sophomore, is ready to go between the pipes.


Coach: Dan Allen

The Highlanders will be younger this year, with just one senior, after graduating seven, so there will be plenty of opportunities for girls take on bigger roles.

The offensive braintrust will feature returning juniors Bea Flynn, Jo Wimler, Bella Schifano, Natalie May and Jordan Hopping, and sophomore Skyler Toffolo. New sophomores Sofia Cuozzo and Izzy Junkin add more depth.

On defense, senior Maya Sellinger (Stetson lacrosse commit) heads up a group that also will see junior Erin Duffy and sophomores Mia Merrill and Olivia Kurtz. New juniors Sophia Nower and Ryleigh Gagnon, and sophomore Megan Sladish round out a deep group.

Goaltending should be strong as well with the return of juniors Emma Eschweiler and Emily Krauss, both coming off solid campaigns.

Nina Herceg Greenwich Acad.


Coach: Erin Brawley

Starting her fourth year as head coach of the Gators, Brawley says her club has a strong returning core and be battling in every game.

Senior Nina Herceg (Manhattanville commit) headlines a big group of returning forwards that also features seniors Ella Zea, Rebecca Arpano, Ellie Volpe and Winnie Welch, juniors Peyton Williams and Molly Roth, and sophomores Lila Cabot and Caroline Watts.

Seniors Cameron Butz and Chloe Cleaves lead the defense in front of returning senior goalie Lianna Seeley.

Adriana Urban


Coach: Bill Ward

The Owls look to defend their WIHLMA championship with what looks like a solid group.

Key holdover forwards for coach Ward are seniors Ashley Gillies and Emily Wroblewski, and juniors Isabelle Gale and Ellie Patrick (a member of the Great Britain U18 National team). New forwards include senior Nina Hudakova (Slovakia), junior Shoshana Lofstock (Fair Lawn, NJ), and sophomores Blayne Dussold (Union, MO) and Geneva Letal (Calgary).

Defensively, a veteran group is led by seniors Adriana Urban (SUNY-Plattsburgh commit), Isabella O’Leary and Valeria Ansoleaga (U18 Spanish National team). Bolstering the group are new juniors Liza Gere (Sweden) and Ryanne Rathburn (Syracuse, NY).

Two goalies on the squad are senior Lacy Bigelow (Team Newfoundland) and sophomore Alisha O’Doherty.

MILLBROOK (12-8-2)

Coach: Erica Shapey-Freymann

With a strong work ethic and team-first mentality, the Mustangs are excited about the season ahead.

Key fixtures in the forward lines will be juniors Caleigh Murphy and Lila Pannaciulli and sophomores Natalia Danyluk and Piper Smith. New sophomore Madison Morris (Jr. Flyers) and freshman Jillian Smith (Ironbound 14U) should open some eyes.

The defense will be built around junior Shaye Jasiel and sophomore Emily Morin. A newcomer to watch is freshman Jaicee Downs (RI Sting).

Senior Morgan Ainley and junior Jessica Trocchio form a more-than-capable goaltending tandem.

Tilly Pethrick Northfield


Coach: Katie Simpson

The Hoggers have turned the controls over new coach Simpson, who looks to guide the team to some improvement.

Avery Olson

There is depth at forward, where a returning group features senior Mackenzie Graham, senior Abby Mellen, junior Mia Ollari and sophomore Carmen Whitney. A pair of new seniors looking to lead are Ava Romano (Middlesex) and Pilar Dugard (Hoosac).

Senior Tilly Pethrick is a veteran presence on defense. In goal, sophomore Avery Olsen returns.

POMFRET (8-13-2)

Coach: Caroline Salvo

Coming off their best season in six years, the Griffins have a lot of returners so things are looking good for continued improvement.

The senior triumvirate of Grace Long, Brigid Fallon and Lily Brooks will lead the deep offensive attack.

Keys on defense for Pomfret look to be senior Tara Valas and junior Paige Anderson. Post-grad Anna Kahl will be a welcome addition.

In goal, junior Avery Valente is another returner.

Emily Hamann Williston

WILLISTON (24-1-0)

Coach: Christa Syfu

The Wildcats topped off a remarkable season by winning the New England Elite 8 championship a year ago. With 12 returners, they will be right in the mix again.

Forward leadership will come from senior Emily Crovo (Holy Cross commit), senior Ava DeCoste (Brown commit) and junior Emily Hamann, a recent Harvard commit.

Senior Katherine Kang, a Williams commit, will be a strong presence on the blue line for coach Syfu, as will junior Caroline Aufiero, who has committed to Harvard. A newcomer ready to impress is Mirands Calderone (Bethesda, MD), already committed to Brown.

In the nets, newcomer Jenna Guglielmi (Wesleyan commit) will join returning netminder Liv Ferebee.

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