Girls Varsity Hockey defeats Deerfield in unprecedented Patsy Odden championship win


Fitzgerald Hung, Staff Writer

Girls Varsity Hockey (GVH) made athletic history this January, winning the school’s first NEPSAC Patsy Odden Championship.

In their championship game at Deerfield Academy, GVH started with a 0-0 first period. With four goals in both the second and third periods from Hannah Weyerhaeuser ’24, Co-Captain Ashley Hallice, and Co-Captain Sophia Kennedy (both ’22), the team defeated Deerfield 4-1.

While the team has won three ISL titles and four Nobles Tournament Championships, this is it’s first Girls Hockey NEPSAC title since the program was created in 1983. GVH Assistant Captain Sydney Bernstein ’22 said their wins in the earlier playoff games helped the team gain the confidence it needed for the finals.

“I had no idea what to expect going into the playoffs,” Sydney said. “We had been to the playoffs before, but never with high hopes of making it far. This year we came right off a big win against Loomis and ties against Nobles and Tabor. We had momentum and nothing to lose.” However, never having played against Deerfield in the regular season made the game especially intimidating, Sydney said.

“I didn’t know what to expect going into the Deerfield game because our regular season game against them had been canceled,” she said. “They were the number one seed and had multiple Division 1 college commits.”

Before getting on the bus to Deerfield, GVH Coach Ed Bourget gathered the team on their home ice. He reminded them that there had never been a NEPSAC playoff game win, let alone a championship game, in GVH history. Sydney described the moment as “bigger than just myself, as it was about the entire GVH history.”

After the win, GVH Assistant Coach Kathy Newell attributed much of the team’s success to their relationships with each other and their determination on the ice.

“This year’s team in particular had some intangibles that led to their winning the championship,” she said. “They bonded sincerely; they had focus on the tasks at hand, and ultimately their season’s success snowballed into two victories when they counted the most.”

Not only did their grit play an important role in their success, but this year’s team also stood out because of their friendly team dynamic and kindness toward one another, Coach Bourget said.

“One thing that makes this team different from past years is the way we treated each other in the locker room as friends,” he said. “We speak about becoming a family, and the players took this message to heart.”

Though 18 players were unacquainted underclassmen, by the end of the season, they played like a family, he said. “Figuring out the pace of play was our largest area of growth due to our heavily underclassmen team,” Coach Bourget said. “This team matured tremendously over the season.”

While GVH has qualified for the playoffs six times in the team’s history, they never managed to win the championship, which made this win even better, Coach Bourget said.

“My highlight from the final game was watching my seniors finish the game on the ice as the clock ticked down to zero,” he said. “This class put a ton of work into this program and suffered many disappointing moments, so it was great to watch them finish their careers with a championship.”

The leadership of the captains also played a big role in the team’s success, goaltender Alexsa Caron ’24 said, even after facing obstacles such as multiple players contracting COVID.

“Our captains helped lead us through our toughest times,” she said. Alexsa also said that the season capstone when the players saw the look on Coach Newell’s face after winning their final game.

“My favorite moment was when Kathy Newell teared up as she held our winning trophy. She has grown with the Girls Varsity Hockey programs for years, and she is where it all started,” Alexsa said. “We were so proud to be a part of this special moment.”