WINTHROP — Anthony Martucci has coached the Winthrop girls hockey program for 10 seasons, and his Vikings have qualified for the state tournament each year.
So when the Vikings put together their list of goals for the upcoming season, another trip to the tournament’s was the top priority.
Winthrop qualified last season as the No. 15 seed and took down No. 18 Westford Academy in the Division 1 North preliminary round to advance to the first round. Then the Vikings fell to No. 2 Woburn, the eventual state champion, ending the season 13-6-1.
“We felt like last season was a nice building block for us,” Martucci, entering his 11th season, said. “The past two years we finished decently but we earned a lower seed. Last year we earned a higher seed and ended up getting a home game.
“So far we’ve been very lucky,” Martucci continued. “Since I’ve been there, we’ve made the tournament every year. The problem is when you make it with nine wins, you’re bound to get a big team in the first round. Last year, we beat Westford and faced Woburn who ended up winning the whole thing. That was a tough game for us.”
This year’s team will be led by three captains, all seniors, in defensemen Bella Perrotti and Abby Stafford, and center-wing Emma Carleton. Defenseman Kayla Morrill also returns to the mix. Morrill and Stafford are the two lone Lynn players remaining in the program.
“Hopefully we can get a co-op with Lynn schools next year,” Martucci said. “Technically we’re not a co-op anymore but those girls were grandfathered in. Hopefully we can get some more Lynn girls into the fold.”
Junior right-wing Olivia Driscoll, daughter of St. Mary’s football coach Sean Driscoll, will be leaned on for goals.
Goalie Summer Tallent will return for her freshman season.
“Summer had 11 wins for us last year,” Martucci said. “There were only two games she wasn’t in our net for. I think it’s huge to have her back. She’s somebody we can lean on.”
Also on the roster are the four Holmes sisters. Abby (defenseman), Emma (left-wing) and Julia (center-wing) are eighth-grade triplets, while Olivia’s a senior defenseman.
“Everything’s been really good,” Martucci said. “There’s a lot of competition because there’s a lot of open spots to be taken. We have a lot of eighth-graders in camp. We have a set of triplets competing for spots and their older sister, which makes four sisters on the team. That’s a unique dynamic because you want the team to be like sisters and that makes up a big part of them.”
If there’s one area that’s still in doubt, it’s the offense. The Vikings graduated two of their top goal-scorers from last season and Martucci believes they’ll have to replace that production with a team effort.
“I’m very excited with what we have,” Martucci said. “We build from the net out. We have to find some players to do scoring for us. We lost two talented centers from last season. We’ll have to do it by association to get the offense going and have it combine with what we have defensively.”
Winthrop opens the season Saturday afternoon (4) at Medford.
“The girls are very excited,” Martucci said. “Our captains have done a tremendous job bringing in the eighth-grade girls and making them feel welcome. They’ve bonded over a tough first few days of practice. There’s still things to work on offensively but hopefully those things will build throughout the season.”