Girls hockey sees new faces, same challenges

With a fresh squad, the Vineyard will rebuild.

Sally Caron breaks out on the attack against Medway-Ashland. — Ralph Stewart

Hope springs eternal in the hockey mind. Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls hockey Coach John Fiorito sees 2017-2018 as another rebuilding year.

“I felt that way last year, and the first half was really rough, but then we won or tied seven of the last eight games (2-1-5) in a 4-10-6 overall season record,” he said this week.

Mr. Fiorito ascribed improvement in the second half of the 2016-2017 season to hard work and a steep learning curve his charges embraced. Every year is different, though, and after graduating five seniors, Mr. Fiorito will have only three seniors on the ice. Gifted senior Jenny Kent suffered a severe neck injury over the summer, and is not cleared for hockey this season. Ms. Kent and Saige Araujo are captains. They join defenseman Elizabeth O’Brien and forward Alana Morris as the senior corps.

He also has three juniors with significant ice time, including Hailey Meader, Meghan Sonia, and Sally Caron. Sophomore redliner Lauren Boyd was a constant last year, and fellow sophs Alex Rego, Chloe Hoyt, and Cesca Robinson are the sophomore forward group.

Five freshmen will compete at the varsity level, including defensemen Ruby Reimann and Megan Zeilinger, forwards Ava Ben-David and Avery Simmons, and goalie Maria Frangos.

It’s unknown what this year will bring for the Vineyarders, but Mr. Fiorito, in his eighth season, knows that teaching and learning will be part of the early going. “We’re going to grow and get better, but we’re also playing teams drawing from three towns and teams with eighth-grade waivers. We’re a smaller town; watch for our youth hockey program. We’ve got nine seventh-grade girls playing this year,” he said.

The value of youth hockey is that players have game savvy and experience, which can translate quickly at the high school level. “We have a couple of freshmen who can play right away,” Mr. Fiorito said, based on his observations during scrimmages.

And attitude counts. “Both goalies are inexperienced, and that knowledge takes a while, but a sophomore, Amelia Simmons, is really into it. She went to summer camp, and she is fearless in the net,” he said. Ms. Simmons is among 10 new players at the varsity level this year.

“Hey, we will play our system, we’ll learn to play the right way, have fun, and learn from experience,” Mr. Fiorito said.

The saga begins Saturday afternoon against Brookline High School at 5 pm at the M.V. Ice Arena.