This past March multiple female Deerfield girls’ varsity hockey players flew to the 2019 Youth Hockey USA National Championships in Irvine, California. The tournament had been held annually since 1938, changing locations each year. To qualify into Nationals, also dubbed “Natty’s”, teams had to win their district championship. There were sixteen teams competing at each age level.
Deerfield girls’ varsity hockey captains Mary Edmonds ’19 and Deirdre Mullowney ’19 both play for the Eagle’s U19 girls team, which won the Massachusetts state championship, sending them to California. They went 3-0 in round-robin, but each game was close.
Edmonds explains, “ This year, we did the best in round-robin since I’ve been on the team. Every single playoff game was tight. We went down 1-0 early against Selects in quarters then fought back and scored two goals in the third. We were up 2-0 against Mission in semis going into third, and they tied it up and put us in overtime where we won.”
In the final, they played Shattuck St. Mary’s, which is notable for having the best girls hockey program in the US. Their 2019 U19 girls team has won four titles, consists of eight players from the USA National Team, and will send all members to a Division I college for hockey. Going into the tournament, Shattuck was ranked number one and the Eagles were ranked number two.
In the end, both teams were the last standing and had to fight for the winning championship title. The Eagles scored two goals in the beginning of the game and immediately transitioned to defensive play after that. Edmonds said, “It was the hardest game of my life… We fought for our lives, blocking shots, playing aggressively. I genuinely didn’t believe we would win until there were three seconds left on the clock.” Shattuck had almost twice as many shots, but the Eagles “did the unthinkable,” as the announcer said, and took the 2-1 win.
Mullowney described the win as “the greatest win of my career. It was incredible. I am still in shock, to be honest. We went absolutely crazy when we won. I think everyone in the arena was stunned. We threw our gloves and sticks up into the air and all piled together against the boards.” The Boston Bruins invited their team to a playoff game against the Toronto Maple Leafs and introduced their team on the Jumbotron.
Head Coach of the Deerfieldgirls’ varsity hockey team Brooke Fernandez recognized their success to be “(…) great for the program because it proves that Deerfield hockey players are successful on the national stage and, though they weren’t wearing green when they won their gold medal, they still were representing Deerfield.”
Christina Halloran ’20, Lisa Ito-Bagshaw ’21, Sara Ito-Bagshaw ’22, and Kelly Howe ’22 all competed in the 2019 youth hockey Nationals as well. L. Ito-Bagshaw, who plays for the Connecticut Mid-Fairfield Stars U16 team, lost all three round-robin games. Although the outcome was not what they had hoped for, Lisa says that it is the best hockey her team had played. She recalled that “[the tournament] was especially memorable for me this year because the tournament was hosted back in Irvine, California, where I grew up and fell in love with playing hockey.”
Because of their hard work during the winter season, these players were able to perform beyond the valley at the highest level in country. The Deerfield Athletics Program is extremely proud of their accomplishments and looks forward to their contributions in the near future.