Girls Hockey wins inaugural WCAC title

photo by Joe Mumola

Five days after winning the MAGHL White Division, St. John’s made history with a 10-0 win over The Academy of the Holy Cross in the inaugural WCAC girls’ ice hockey championship.

“It’s really awesome,” senior Elizabeth Woodhull said after the game. “We found a great coach to help out the team, and a lot more support over the four years. The crowd got bigger and bigger, like today, all the stands were totally filled, which was really great to see and shows the dedication that everyone’s put in these past four years to make it the program that it is right now.”

The Cadets opened up the game with a five-goal first period and never looked back. Rosie Kelly ’20, Jacqueline Albero ’21, and Jen Albero ’22 each scored two goals.

“It was really exciting and really fun,” Kelly said of the championship. “It feels like I’m on top of the world.”

In her final game in a St. John’s uniform, senior goalie Sabrina Leatherwood posted a perfect game, making some tough saves despite a lopsided scoresheet. “It’s pretty exciting. We’ve really grown as a program over the past four years, and I’m really excited to see where the program will go past my time here at St. John’s,” she said.

Two years ago, girls’ ice hockey at St. John’s was still a club sport; but after increased membership and a 2017 MAGHL title, they were elevated to a varsity sport in the fall of 2017. Now, the program has grown with the addition of a JV team, who also won their MAGHL championship on Friday.

“St. John’s has benefited from increased interest and participation in girls ice hockey, partially driven by the success of the Capitals,” head coach Paul Wardour said in an email interview. “Combine that broad based interest with an investment from our school, support of the administration, a set of dedication parents volunteering, and most importantly, a group of talented athletes, and you have the makings of great foundation.

Junior Rylee Saunders Jackson, who recorded three assists, recalled her development: “It’s pretty amazing. I remember, my freshman year, I couldn’t skate, I had almost never been in skates before, and just now, we have girls who have almost played their whole entire life.”

Like many of her teammates, Leatherwood credited Head Coach Paul Wardour for the development. “He’s a great developmental coach. He’s really good at helping the players who have never played before, great at good hockey sense and making sure we all understand what we’re supposed to do.”

In addition to the championship, eight St. John’s players made a WCAC All-Conference team: Leatherwood, Lilly Wardour ’19, Tory Scott ’19, Jen Albero ’22, and Cece Hodges ’22 all made first team, while Saunders Jackson, Saoirse Healy ’21, and Molly McGovern ’19 made second team. Wardour also was awarded WCAC Player of the Year, and her father, Paul Wardour, was named Coach of the Year.

St. John’s benefitted this year from younger talent, with seven of the ten goals in the championship coming from freshmen or sophomores.

“We’re super fortunate this year,” Coach Wardour said of his freshman class. “Jenn Albero led our team and division in scoring, Cece Hodges is a great two way player who can play anywhere on the ice and Amelia Haywood has been outstanding in goal for JV and a huge asset as a forward on Varsity this season.”

“It’s really amazing to have them on our team,” Saunders Jackson said of the underclassmen. “I can’t wait to have more people like them that can just skate the puck up and score like it’s nothing.”

On the other end of the spectrum, this was the last game for the senior class, who all played for the entirety of their four years at St. John’s. Coach Wardour said that they “helped us build a really solid foundation for years to come.  All of them have made large contributions to our team.”

Leatherwood added: “It’s been a great four years, everyone’s genuinely nice and it’s just a fun team to be a part of.”

The team spoke highly of the senior class. Saunders Jackson said, “I’m gonna miss all of them. I’m gonna miss having Sabrina as a goalie, especially seeing her going from skating and being a leader on the ice to being our star goalie.”

Looking forward, Coach Wardour is excited for the future. “Every year since the program has started we have elevated our level of play, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon.”

%d bloggers like this: