WEST GOSHEN — Even though Unionville is perennially a top hockey team in the Girls Varsity conference, the Indians have only won one conference championship since 2012.
That is, until the 2016 season.
Unionville claimed the title after a 7-1 win over third-seeded Lansdale Catholic on Friday night at Ice Line.
“We’re extremely happy to reclaim it,” said head coach Dave Elvin. “It was one of the big goals for the year.”
Coming into the season after losing six seniors, Elvin and the players were concerned how the team would fare with a bit of a shortened roster and some very young players, including seventh graders.
“I was a little scared at the beginning of the season,” said defenseman Allie Ward. “With the new players that came in, we really hit the ground running.”
Instead, Unionville dominated the season, losing just two games all season.
However, those two losses came in the last two games of the regular season for the Indians.
“Honestly, we got really overconfident and we lost it a little, but we recovered,” Ward said. “I don’t know how we did it. Somehow, we always come up with it. It’s amazing.”
Instead of being a season of trying to put together a hockey team, it more became just a continuation of the success of last season.
“This was wasn’t really a rebuilding year, but as you can see, it was a reload,” Elvin said. “This is one of the few times this season where I had everybody on the bench so I was really glad to have a complete roster tonight.”
Though the roster was complete on the bench, it wasn’t on the ice as Lizzy Gaebel was out with an injury, but she was on the bench to cheer her teammates on in their win.
Unionville carried a 2-0 lead into the second period off goals from Kaelen Speck, but Lansdale Catholic’s Eleanor Donaher’s goal early in the middle frame gave life to her team.
“They just work hard all the time,” said Lansdale head coach Bill Becker. “They don’t like to give up, so it’s a nice feature about the goals. There was a part of the second period after (Donaher) scored that they got really energized. For about five or 10 minutes, they really jumped on Unionville.”
But the momentum didn’t stay with Lansdale as Unionville’s lethal skaters poured on five more goals before the game came to an end.
“That’s a good team over there and it’s hard to stay with them for an entire 45 minutes,” Becker said. “It would have been nice to get this championship, but second place isn’t too bad.”
With the end of the season a week or less away, the Unionville coaching staff is excited that, unlike last year when the team lost so many graduating seniors, this time around, Unionville does not have a single senior on the roster.
“This is a first,” Elvin said. “It’s funny because it kind of comes in waves. We have a pretty good pod of sophomores that are coming through the system. We’re fortunate. We have enough in the seventh graders and others coming up that will be good.”
It’s hard to deny that the future is indeed very promising for Unionville.
“When we have practices for our middle school team, there are some times when we have more girls on the ice than we do boys,” Elvin said. “The future looks really bright for Unionville hockey. That’s something we’re really quite proud of.”
For now, Unionville will look forward to next week’s start of the Flyers Cup tournament for the girls. In recent years with the steady increase in talented teams, it has been more difficult to claim both the conference and Flyers Cup championships in the same year.
What makes it even tougher is the fact that Unionville won’t be able to play a couple of their top players because they are not in high school yet.
“It’s tough to get both,” Elvin said. “This is a big deal to get both championships. That’s what we’re really driving for.”
Unionville will be without Jordan Hower, a forward, and Mia Impagliazzo, a defenseman, both of whom are middle schoolers.
“We have to be able to keep our mind ready,” Ward said. “We only have one practice until (the tournament) and that’s not going to help us too much. We have to keep our mind right and keep pushing. We know we have the physical ability, but we have to have it mentally, too.”