BY RANDY SCHULTZ –
Could this be the year that the HEWSH (Hamburg, Eden, West Seneca and Holland High Schools) girl’s varsity high school hockey team takes a serious shot at the Section VI girls high school hockey championship?
The team came close last year, finishing third in league standings with an 11-3-1 record, winning the quarter-final round of the playoffs against FLOP, 2-1, before losing to Niagara County in the semi-finals, 2-1.
HEWSH has a pretty solid team returning again this season, according to head coach, Eric Cooper.
“With this team, we have several seniors and juniors returning to the team that have been with us for a long time,” stated Cooper. “They include seniors Hanna Barrett (Eden), Hailey Cooper (Eden), Liliann Drzazgowski (West Seneca) and Alexandra Hodil (West Seneca) as well as juniors Kayla Pelc (Eden) and Samantha Miller (West Seneca).
“That group forms the corps of our leadership group. But we’ve also got some good young talent including some sophomores, some freshmen and even a couple of eighth graders who are stepping in and making some good contributions.”
It should be noted that HEWSH has six eighth graders on their team this year. Most are being worked into the team’s lineup as the season progresses.
But Cooper will be the first to admit that he had some concerns coming into this season.
“My biggest concern coming into this season was replacing our leading goal scorer and scorer from last season (Riley Andzel, who finished second in the league in scoring with 36 points in 16 games, including 26 goals),” commented Cooper. “It’s tough to make up those 36 points.
“But we’ve got the players on this team who can contribute. We’ve got a strong defense.
“Our defense seems to be able to lock down other teams and we don’t give up that many quality scoring opportunities.
“But I think our scoring this year will be spread out a bit. We’ve got players like Sophia Phillips (West Seneca), Brynn Holland (West Seneca), Hanna Barrett (Eden) and Kayla Pelc (Eden) who have all stepped up at different times to score.
“And if you look at last year’s scoring on our team, after Riley the scoring got spread out a little bit. So I think this year’s team will continue that way again.”
Goaltending this season will be handled by a ninth grader, Ella Buczynski (West Seneca) and eighth grader, Gigi Rakoski (Hamburg).
Cooper admits that this HEWSH team has come a long way in the past two years.
“A couple of years ago we only had one or two seniors and maybe one or two juniors and the rest were younger players who were eighth, ninth and tenth graders,” remembered Cooper. “But now those girls have experience under their belt and it is showing.
“And I think our team works well together. I don’t have anybody who is trying to carry the whole load and doing it all themselves.
“I think if we do that the whole season, we will have a good season.”
(Photos by Janet Schultz Photography/NY Hockey OnLine)