PEABODY — With a new season comes a new slate of challenges. The Bishop Fenwick girls hockey team faced a challenge earlier than anticipated, when it lost junior goalie Cailyn Wesley to a season-ending injury.
“She broke her ankle playing field hockey on that new turf in Swampscott and it was a bad break,” said Fenwick coach Doug Anderson. “She had surgery and has pins and plates and it is doubtful she will play at all this season. She’s arguably our best player and our best goalie. But she also is a tremendous leader, just a spunky little thing and two-year all star. She’s the kind of player who could keep us in games against more-skilled opponents, and is so aggressive protecting her net, so she is a huge loss for us.”
Last year’s team (10-9-2), on the same day the U.S. women’s hockey team ended a 20-year gold-medal drought, survived a wild final two minutes to defeat Wilmington 2-1 and punch its Division 2 tourney ticket as the No. 19 seed. While the Crusaders were eliminated with a 2-1 loss to No. 14 King Phillip, Anderson said he was pleased with his team’s effort and progress.
“We just didn’t have the depth we needed in the tournament, but the girls played very well and made great strides last year,” Anderson said. “We needed to win our last two games against two teams we had never beaten before, so doing that was a big step forward for us.”
Fortunately for Fenwick, the Crusaders have several strong players returning this year, along with some talented freshmen, starting with the first line of Gabby Davern, Lexi McNeil and Jill Mattucci, who played defense last year.
Emma Perry, sophomore Olivia Lajacono and sophomore Shannon Nagy will skate the second line with Eve Weiss also in the mix for ice time.
Junior Daphne Jalbert and freshman Madison Davis are in the mix in goal.
Defensively, the Crusaders are extremely young.
Freshmen Catherine Salvo, Grace Morey and Lauren Dirianian along with Allison Countie will anchor the defensive rotations. Mia Sartorelli and sophomore Lindsay McMullen are also in the mix.
“We have a promising group of four standouts on defense who are standouts,” said Anderson. “They all have skills and are strong and should be able to give us a good backbone behind the blue line.”
Rounding out the offensive unit are senior forwards Caleigh Dirks and Gabriella Vecchio, junior forwards Grace Reardon, Olivia Cassidy and Emily Matarazzo, sophomore forward Hanna Goodreau and forward Abi Bruner, an eighth-grader.
“Abi is going to be very good and while she is young now, she has a bright future with us,” said Anderson.
Back again for another season as assistant coaches are John Kasle and Billy Corley.
Fenwick opened its season with a 9-3 win over Shawsheen Sunday morning at James McVann/Louis O’Keefe Memorial Rink. Davern and McNeil led the offense. Davern scored two goals and an assist and McNeil scored a goal and two assists. Their linemate, Mattucci, chipped in with three assists. Satterfield scored two goals, while Perry scored her first varsity points with one goal. Weiss had one goal and one assist, while Countie and Sartorelli also scored goal.
The Crusaders are back in action Wednesday afternoon (4:30) when they visit Marblehead at Salem State.