Girls hockey preview: Tigers serve notice in opening win
If the first game of the season is an accurate indicator, the Ridgefield/Danbury co-op girls hockey team will be tough to beat this winter.
Getting goals from sophomores Emily Steffanelli and Julia Bongo, the Tigers defeated Northwest Catholic/Mercy, 2-0, last Monday night at the Champions Skating Center in Cromwell.
“That team beat us pretty good in the first game of the season last year,” said Ridgefield head coach Lauren Lubrano in reference to NW Catholic/Mercy’s 6-4 victory last December. “So to beat them on the road is a real nice start for us.”
Following a scoreless first period, Ridgefield went ahead 1-0 on Steffanelli’s unassisted goal with just under four minutes left in the second period.
Bongo added an insurance goal just 2:03 into the third period on assists from freshman Katie Rector and Steffanelli.
Ridgefield goalie Kendal Mountain made several nice saves to preserve the shutout.
“It was a good confidence builder,” said Lubrano about the road victory. “We worked hard and played well together even though it was our first game.”
The Tigers return virtually their entire roster from last year’s team, which rebounded from a slow start to go 8-12-1, losing to Greenwich in the FCIAC quarterfinals.
“We have three solid lines, four really good defensemen, and both goalies back,” said Lubrano. “We’re strong all-around and I’m very excited for this season.”
Steffanelli centers the first line with Bongo and Rector on the wings. Sophomore Kate Zangre is the second-line center, flanked by junior Zella Ertl and sophomore Rebecca Gartner, and senior Natalie Preveza centers the third line with junior Aubrey White and sophomore Ira Simpson on the wings.
Depth forwards include wingers Emmy Liu (junior) and Jamie Kunzmann (sophomore).
Junior Chiara Signorelli and sophomores Bridget Galloway, Ali Caiola, and Julia Zangre are Ridgefield’s defensemen, with juniors Mountain and Reagan Bonadies back as the goalies.
“We certainly have the firepower to challenge for titles,” said Lubrano. “We’re still a young team, but everyone has much more experience than they did last season.”
Notes: Ridgefield’s second game of the season is Wednesday (Dec.12) against Fairfield Ludlowe/Warde at 8:30 p.m. at the Winter Garden in Ridgefield.