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The Branford girls' ice hockey squad faced Notre Dame-Fairfield with designs on notching its first win of the season on Jan. 10. Although that didn't happen as the Hornets dropped a 4-1 decision, they still outshot the Lancers 40-13 and Coach Lauren Wiggins feels positive about her program's progression, something she hopes will translate to some wins in the season's second half.
"We definitely played a good game. Their goalie just stood on her head," Wiggins said. "Our coverage in our defensive zone was much better and our power play looked the best it ever had as the girls were cycling the puck. We're working on making our shots a little stronger and more accurate."
Both of those things happened when Branford netted its goal against Notre Dame as senior captain center Emily Hershman lit the lamp after she stole the puck from the Lancers' keeper and buried it for the score. Coach Wiggins enjoys seeing her athletes' enthusiasm whenever they score a goal, saying, "It's like they won the Stanley Cup whenever they score because they get so fired up."
Wiggins added that Hershman has done a fine job of leading the Hornets this year with her four fellow captains, who are senior wing Caity O'Brien, and three assistants in junior center April Simmons, senior defender Emily McColl, and junior wing Cassidy Murphy.
"Our captains have been great and work well together," said Wiggins, who's assisted by Scott Valentine. "They really stepped up this year with the off-ice stuff and the workouts. They did a great job of leading the team and making sure everyone worked hard at our captains' practices."
Wiggins also gave credit to sophomore wing Sam DeVito for her showing against Notre Dame, as well as junior goalie Whitney Morris for her performances throughout the campaign.
"We got hit with the flu this week and so Sam had to play her first game on our second line and did a phenomenal job of getting shots on goal and rebounds," Wiggins said. "Whitney has come a long way and been awesome this year. We've had some tough games where we allowed a lot of shots—like our game against Simsbury last week [a 7-0 loss where Branford allowed over 60 shots on goal—and for Whitney to keep them under double digits was huge."
The rest of Branford's roster consists of senior defender Bailey Fryer, junior wings Shelby Antonino, Jamie Ardito, and Christina Smith; sophomores Marissa Guglielmi (defender), Jess Giamattei (wing), and Jamie Hershman (wing); plus freshmen Kendall Simmons (wing), Anna Pascale (defender), and Maddy Guglielmi (wing).
These are some of the athletes who will try and help the Hornets record their first win of the winter, starting with a game against Hand at 3:50 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, followed by contests against the North Haven co-op team, West Haven (which Branford tied earlier this year), two duels versus Lauralton Hall, and Hamden.
"We've gotten a lot of our tougher games out of the way," said Coach Wiggins. "Lauralton Hall is always a good matchup, we already tied West Haven this year and that's usually a close game, and Hand was also a good game when we played them the first time. Our team is steadily improving and that's all you can ask for."