Massachusetts Girls Division 1 Poll
The consensus heading into the 2013-2014 season is that there is no clear-cut favorite in MIAA Division I girls hockey. Many of the usual suspects are still legitimate threats, as are a couple of up-comers, and, a newcomer to Division I that certainly is not a stranger.
How it all shakes out in March is anybody’s guess. It should be a fun ride.
Although they do not return a starting goaltender, unlike the majority of the top teams, HNIB News will go with Arlington Catholic (17-5-2) as the pre-season #1 in the Mass. Division I girls top ten pre-season poll. Several coaches listed the Cougars as the team to watch, even with goaltender Megan Messuri having transferred to prep school (Northwood). AC has been in the state final the past two seasons (2012 state champion) and should have one of the top scoring duos in juniors Adrieanna Rossini and Jessica Piracini.
After winning three straight Division II state titles, Duxbury (20-1-2) will move to D1 for this season. The fact that the Dragons begin the year at #2 is a testament to the success of their program under coach Friend Weiler. They have played most of the top D1 teams in non-league games and more than held their own. Senior goalie Rachel Myette backbones a team that as usual is talented at every position.
The same holds true for #3 Acton-Boxboro (15-7-2). The Colonials appear primed for a big run as they return virtually their whole team intact, including a host of scorers, MVC-Dual Large MVP Annie Messuri on defense and Cali Loblundo in goal.
A team to watch is #4 Reading (14-5-2). The Rockets boast a boatload of young talent, including All Scholastics Ali O’Leary at forward and Caroline Seibold on defense, and this could be the year they shoot to the top. First off, Reading will look to wrest away the Middlesex League Liberty title.
And that title, as of now belongs to #5 Woburn (19-1-3). The Tanners lost only once last winter, a shootout loss in the semifinals to eventual state champ St. Mary’s. Senior Ashley Moran and Emily Lissner will lead a prolific offense for coach Bob MacCurtain, and senior Courtney Davis is a four-year starter in goal. If the defense jells, Woburn will be in the mix.
If defending state champ St. Mary’s (19-3-4) is to repeat, it will do so with a more defensive style. The #6 Spartans don’t boast a lot of firepower, but appear strong on the blue line, led by senior Tatiana Doucette, and have a veteran in goal in Lauren Skinnion. Be sure that coach Frank Pagliuca will have his club ready to go.
Another team that could have a big season is #7 Austin Prep (12-8-4). The Cougars gained a lot of confidence with a couple of post-season wins a year ago and should be strong, provided they find an adequate replacement for the graduated Shannon O’Neil in goal. Michaela Boyle and Maddy Ricci are two premier offensive players.
Young talent is also the name of the game at #8 Billerica (16-6-1). The Indians reached the quarterfinal round a year ago and return a host of those youngsters that have a year of experience under their belts. Expect Billerica to battle Acton-Boxboro tooth-and-nail for the MVC/Dual Large crown.
#9 Hingham (13-9-1) has a storied tradition in Mass. girls hockey. Forward Cat Linehan and defenseman Tori Messina hope to lead the Harborwomen to a successful season in their first year in the Coastal Division of the SEMGHL.
Closing out the pre-season poll is #10 Beverly/Danvers (17-3-2). The Panthers should be the class of the newly-named Northeastern Hockey League, and return a good amount of scoring and solid blueliner Caitlin McBride.