Warriors celebrate seniors before final game of season

Mar 4, 2019 by

THE SENIORS on the Wakefield High girls’ hockey team were honored before their final game of the season on Feb. 19 at Stoneham Arena. Pictured from left to right with their families is Brooke Lilley, Juliette Guanci, Caroline Hurley and Fiona Heffernan. (Donna Larsson Photo)

Published in the March 4, 2019 edition.

By NOAH GREIF

STONEHAM — In what would be the last game for the Wakefield Memorial High School girls’ hockey team’s Class of 2019, it was a night they will never forget.

February 19’s contest against Marblehead at the Stoneham Arena was the Warriors’ second highest goal total of the season, led by a hat trick from senior captain Brooke Lilley in her final game. Despite failing to reach the tournament, Wakefield finished their season with signs of hope for the future, while giving their four seniors the recognition they deserved.

Before the game, the Warriors four seniors were honored. Juliette Guanci, Caroline Hurley, Fiona Heffernan and Brooke Lilley have all played a pivotal role in changing the girls’ hockey program, a team that has seen significant improvement over the last four years. Guanci, Hurley and Heffernan played all four years, while Lilley played five (including her eighth grade year). Guanci will attend Lafayette College, Hurley will attend Providence College, Lilley will attend either UNH or UMass Amherst and Heffernan’s plans are to be determined. These four appear to have a bright future, as shown by their leadership for the team.

“This group of four seniors is really special to me,” said head coach Chrissy Weeden. “I know I have only coached them for one season, but they have made a lasting impression on me as a coach. They are four very different girls and each brought something unique to our team. What I will definitely miss the most is their personalities. They knew the right thing to say in any situation and have really set the bar high for upperclassmen leadership that I am going to expect to see for years to come.”

Wakefield kept the celebration going as all four seniors were in the starting lineup, along with Sarah Melanson and goalie Abby Murdocca. Murdocca had not been the starting goalie for the majority of the season, so the junior pounced on the opportunity.

“Abby Murdocca deserved nothing more than a start Tuesday. Nobody would know how hard she works daily unless you saw her improve the way she did since day one. Abby is one of the hardest workers and could be the most supportive teammate we have on our team. She is always the first on the ice to give everyone a fist bump and the last one off doing the same. Everything she does makes her a teammate I would want on the ice playing in a game. For her first start I thought she played well. She is the real deal which is impressive for someone who hasn’t put the pads on in years before this season. We are expecting her to come into next season even more prepared than she was this year and knowing her work ethic, she has already started to prep for the next season on the day this one ended,” said Weeden.

Marblehead quickly broke up the festivities with a pair of early goals. Sydney Cresta faked out Murdocca for the backhand finish at 12:47, with Mia Salah on the assist. Cate Delaney pushed the lead with a goal that deflected off Murdocca from Marblehead’s Salah once again at 5:09. The Magician attack was strong in the first period, tallying a remarkable fifteen shots. Wakefield’s only chance came on a 2-on = in the final minute featuring sisters Brooke and Caroline Lilley, but they were held off, keeping the score at 2-0 after one.

Coming into the last game of the season, with both teams’ tournament hopes dashed, you naturally wouldn’t expect a ton of action. In the second period, there were seven goals from both teams combined, more than the Warriors had tallied in their three previous games.

Marblehead’s Elise Burdge netted a high wrist shot rebound at 14:03, but Annabella Forziati came right back 21 seconds later to keep the lead at two with a rebound shot. The Magicians began to pour it on, with three goals in a span of two minutes. Mia Salah, Sydney Cresta and Cate Delaney put Marblehead up 6-1.

Wakefield made the switch at goalie to freshman Abby Boudreau, with Murdocca finishing with fifteen saves. With the game looking bleak, the Warriors showed the same fight they have had all season. Brooke Lilley made a move on a defender and got the breakaway, and beat the goalie at 8:02. The captain would add her second goal on a deflection off a Sarah Melanson shot with 56.3 seconds left in the second period.

The Warriors looked to continue the comeback in the third period, but their momentum was halted as Caroline Lilley was called for a cross-check at 13:18. Marblehead capitalized on the opportunity with Cresta collecting a hat trick at 12:12.

Still down four goals, Wakefield simply kept playing like they had all season. Sarah Melanson made it 7-4 with a shot that went off the post and in at 10:40. Brooke Lilley would finish off her high school career on a high note, matching Cresta’s hat trick with one of her own with a rebound goal at 7:57. Unfortunately, Marblehead would hold off the Warriors the rest of the game, collecting a last second goal to end the game at a score of 8-5.

“I can say I am honestly not surprised that we came back from being down 6-1 to bring the game with in a couple of goals. Game one we came back to tie a game with five seconds left, game two we scored with under a second left on the clock, just last week we were down to Melrose significantly in the 3rd period and we were still playing hard. We have been a team that always plays until the last buzzer and that is a testament to the girls daily hard work,” said Weeden on the near-comeback by the Warriors, driven by their great work ethic.

The Warriors finished the season with a record of 7-11-2 after an impressive run the previous year, going 9-9-2. However, Wakefield learned a lot about themselves as a team and have a lot of things to look forward to next year.

“I have learned a lot in my first year as a head coach. This season challenged me in ways I have not been challenged before as a coach. It was a unique experience coaching in a new town, new program, new school and to get to know an entirely new set of girls. The first year is always about establishing the fact that a new set of coaches have new standards and expectations that we want met by the girls and I feel the 23 girls we had on our roster this year did a great job upholding those expectations. We surprised some teams and daily the girls surprised me. I am proud to be a Wakefield Warrior,” said Weeden on her first season as coach.

The Warriors have gotten to the tournament before, and with 19 returning players, they are hungry to get back next season.

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