Jr. Titans 14U Girls capture silver at USA Hockey Nationals

first_imgA stellar season for the New Jersey Junior Titans Girls 14U ice hockey team concluded with a silver medalwinning performance at the USA Hockey Tier II National Championships in Amherst, N.Y., on April 6. The girls strung together five wins in the tournament before falling in the finals to Massachusetts’ Assabet Valley, 5-1.The Junior Titans, who are coached by Matt Kiernan, opened the nationals with victories in all three of their pool play games. They defeated the Lady Vipers of Florida, 10-0, on April 2; the Kensington Valley Ravens from Michigan, 6-5, on April 3; and New York’s Amherst Knights, 8-0, on April 4.The girls moved into the playoff rounds, with two games on April 5. They went into overtime during a quarterfinals matchup against the Connecticut Polar Bears. The Junior Titans took the lead early in the third period with two goals to overcome a 2-1 deficit, but Connecticut knotted the score at 3-3 with about 90 seconds left in regulation. Jesse DeVito netted her fourth goal of the game 3:45 into the extra session to send New Jersey into the semifinals.There, they faced off against the Pittsburgh Predators and advanced to the championship game with a 3-1 victory behind a strong defensive effort, led by a 21-save effort from goaltender Karoline Winzer. The Junior Titans could not get going in the finals against Assabet Valley, closing out the tournament in second place after falling behind 4-0 through two periods and lighting the lamp just once on a power play goal by Rebecca Foggia early in the third.“I thought it was an unbelievable run. We just ran out of gas on the final day,” said George Haviland, the Junior Titans owner and director of hockey and an assistant coach with the Girls 14U team. “On the championship day, it was our third game in less than 20 hours. No excuses; the girls’ legs were weary. But we played against a four-line team that was fresh. “[Finishing] second out of 197 teams around the country is an amazing accomplishment for our girls club in only our third year,” he continued. As they did during the whole season, the Junior Titans relied on the scoring of a first line of Brianna Haviland, Foggia and De- Vito, as well as solid goaltending from Winzer. Foggia was the top goalscorer (12) and point-getter (19) in the tournament, and she also had seven assists. DeVito was the second leading scorer with 16 points, while Haviland was first in assists (eight) and third in points (15). Winzer went 5-1 at the nationals, and she finished with a 2.30 goals against average, .885 save percentage and two shutouts. The Juniors Titans made it to the nationals by capturing the Atlantic District championship on March 9 in Aston, Pa. They also won the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Hockey Association (MAWHA) 14U Ruggerio Division and the MAWHA 14U regular season championships.“There is a certain standard that the Titans expect, and the girls have reached it,” Haviland said.Haviland said that the Junior Titans hired Olivia Mucha as women’s hockey director in order to continue the growth of the girls program. Mucha is a graduate of Princeton University, where she was a fouryear varsity player for the NCAA Division I school. Mucha was also a prep school player and a member of the USA Hockey under-18 program.“Now our program will have a full-time director to set the bar high,” Haviland said.The members of the 14U Girls team are Ally Freeman, Tea Ferrara, Callie Haytaian, Martha Dzieniszewska, Caitlyn Keenan, Claire Caroli, Isabelle Engel, Molly O’Mara, Nicole Suboya, Foggia, Haviland, DeVito and Winzer.Kiernan was assisted behind the bench by Haviland and Pete Haytaian.Girls interested in playing ice hockey at any age or level can contact Haviland for more information at havs11@aol.com. By NEIL BORENSTEIN Staff Writer last_img