There are conflicting opinions on whether Central/West is an actual league this winter. Some feel this group may be Independents. Regardless, Pope Francis looks to continue its improvement, while Algonquin sets out to defend its title with a new head coach in Tina Beauchemin. Oakmont has joined with Leominster for a new co-op arrangment.
POPE FRANCIS (13-8-1)
Coach: Chris Connors
Fourteen players return from last year’s club that reached the D1 Round of 16, where they gave Notre Dame all in could handle in a one-goal loss. Expect solid team defense and more balanced scoring this winter.
A deep forward group is sparked by senior Kellie Harrington (13 pts) and juniors Lily Hayes (18 pts) and Ela Rabidoux (15 pts). Junior Ivorie Arguin (12 pts), sophomore Cam Rogowski, senior Eleanor Jacoby, junior Nadiya Champigny and sophomore Giada Musa are all back. New freshman Brooke Nadle will vye for a role.
What should be a stout defense features senior Lila Roche, juniors Kaitlyn Ondrick and Grace Sands, and sophomore Sarah Tatro, along with new freshman Madison Dunaj.
Sophomore Felix Goeckel, who saw action in seven games a year ago, gets the nod between the pipes.
Hear what Pope Francis captains Lila Roche and Kellie Harrington, and coach Chris Connors, have to say about the upcoming season:
Coach: Nancy LeBlanc
This year’s roster is bolstered with players from Oakmont Regional, to form a co-op squad that should be more competitive.
Key holdovers up front are sophomore Carley Ehwa (9 goals), junior Alison Neiley and sophmore Alyssa Allen. A huge addition from Oakmont is Rachel Simkewicz.
Two seniors ready to take care of things in the defensive zone are Carissima Heinis and senior Amanda Allen. A veteran group also includes Oakmont seniors Kelly Paquet and Ashley Gorge.
In goal, look for eighth-grader Carina Eshbaugh to get some key minutes.
Coach: Tina Beauchemin
The defending MIAA D2 champions turn the head coaching reigns over to five-year assistant Beauchemin, who feels the Titans will be competitive despite several key losses from last winter’s title club.
In junior assistant captains Emily Johns (26-12-38) and Bryn Domolky (16-17-33), the Titans will have two solid producers up front. Returners Linda Hu (junior), Annie Biagini (sophomore) and Betsy Bertonazzi (sophomore) should expect bigger offensive responsibilities.
Senior captain Olivia Bower (+32 a year ago), anchors the defense with sophomore Lauren O’Malley (+28 a year ago).
With Lana Pacific graduated, senior captain Kaitlin Mathews is ready to take on the full-time role in the nets for Algonquin/Hudson.
Coach: Melissa Vandermyn
Communicating effectively will be a big key for the Lancers this winter. The team has strong leadership in its captains, and some talented freshmen that will slot in right away.
The offensive will be built around senior Jane O’Connor (15 pts), junior Avery Ireland (8 goals), senior Camryn Scanlon and sophomore Rylee Welch. A couple of freshmen ready to step in are Amelia Hanke and Abby Tredo.
Senior Maddy Murphy anchors coach Vandermyn’s defense. Looking for key roles are new sophomore Ava Saunders and freshmen Mia Laudato and Nine Semanie.
Senior Abbie Rafuse, last year’s backup, moves into the starting goaltender’s position.
** Auburn will also participate in the Central/West region