The Wilton High School girls hockey team held its Senior Night ceremonies Wednesday night at Wintergarden Ice Rink in Ridgefield. The last regular-season home game for the six girls was an opportunity to say goodbye, and it was also the time to say thanks.
Two years ago, Lara Schnitzler, Stephanie Lash, Christie Huidekoper, Erica DiLello and Emily Tucker were part of the first girls ice hockey team at Wilton. Sabrina Bell, the sixth senior honored before Wednesday's 5-2 loss to New Canaan, joined the team last year.
The girls have endured growing pains. Wilton's first team went 3-10, and most of the players had no experience. The second year was only marginally better, with the team finishing 5-12.
This year, the Wilton girls are on one of the top teams in the state. After Thursday's 1-0 win over Guilford, the Warriors are 11-3 and won 10 of their first 11 games. Two of the losses have been to New Canaan, the state's gold standard in girls hockey. The seniors that struggled for two years have not only seen the team rise to prominence, they also have led the team's ascent.
"Besides being instrumental in getting the team to this level, they were the leaders off the ice, too,'' Wilton coach Kerry Leonard said. "To see them having success now is a great thing. They've put a lot of effort into it. We're going to miss them."
Some memorable moments have happened along the way. Huidekoper scored the team's first goal, and she and Schnitzler earned All-FCIAC second team honors last year. This year, the team posted its first victories over Darien, Greenwich and Ridgefield, teams that have been playing far longer than the Warriors. DiLello and Lash received the team's Founders' Award in the first two seasons. Tucker, who has shared time in goal this year with Vanessa Pagano, has been solid as the Warriors have posted three shutouts and surrendered just 15 goals in its 11 wins.
Thanks to its seniors, Wilton's players are on solid footing as they get ready for their college journeys. Along with Leonard and the other girls from the first two years, they were the ones who helped create the structure. Now, it will be up to the girls behind them to provide the decorations.
How far do you think Wilton's girls hockey team will go in the FCIAC and or state playoffs? Start the discussion below!
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