The Arlington girls hockey team had high expectations heading into this season.
A legitimate state title contender had there been a state title to play for this winter, the Spy Ponder girls have had to adjust their goals a bit. The biggest one? Finishing the year unbeaten while making sure the seniors can go out on top as well.
With a 4-1 win over Belmont on Saturday afternoon, Arlington moved to 7-0-2 with one regular season game remaining on Monday, a rematch against the same Marauders team. Belmont fell to 3-3-3.
“Our main goal is to try and win our games, but we want to make sure we have fun as a team and make it a good year for the seniors,” said Maddie Krepelka who had two goals on Saturday. “It’s obviously been hard on them.”
“We want to make sure the kids have had the best experience possible this season,” added Arlington head coach Jeff Mead. “Obviously going undefeated would be nice, but the way this year has been, you just want to make sure you get your 10 games in and be as competitive as we can in all of them and I think we’ve done that.”
The scoreboard would have looked a whole lot different on Saturday if not for Belmont sophomore goalie Bridget Gray. Gray had 41 saves in the loss, but with two more years left to backstop the Marauders, you’ll be hearing plenty more about her.
“She had 10 shutouts as a freshman,” said Belmont head coach Ken Murphy. “She doesn’t have any this year but we have a young core of defenseman, so last year Bridget would make the initial save and then we’d clear it, but this year we’re just a little less experienced. All in all though, she has days like this seemingly every time out. She’s always going to keep us in the game.”
“She’s an incredible goalie. Scoring on her is just so hard to begin with,” added Krepelka.
Gray did her best to keep the Marauders close in the first of two 22 1/2 minute periods, but Krepelka gave the Spy Ponders a 1-0 lead after one when she let a rifle go in the slot that beat Gray high. The Spy Ponders dominated possession for the majority of the 45 minutes, in particular the line of Krepelka, Gabby Russo and Makayla Doherty.
Krepelka scored again with 10:33 left in the second with an assist going to Doherty, making it 2-0.
“That line has just been great,” said Mead. “They’re all offensive players and it’s nice to see them get rewarded today because they were excellent.”
With just 2:07 remaining, Russo went coast-to-coast and roofed a goal top shelf to make it 3-0. Belmont avoided being shut out when Ruby Jones beat Arlington goalie Elise Rodd (7 saves) 31 seconds later, but Russo added an empty net goal in the final 12 seconds to seal the deal.
The Arlington girls will get to play a bit more when the Middlesex League creates its “playoff” bracket, but it was clear following Saturday afternoon’s win that the 2021 version of the lady Spy Ponders are truly embracing every moment they have together, and winning is always nice too.
“Really, we just need to stay together as a team right now,” Krepelka said. “Getting those last three goals quickly just sort of brought us together in the end. Wee just need to keep bringing that same kind of energy we did for this game and I think we’ll be alright if we do that.”