HOCKEY: Washtenaw United's Season Ends in the Quarterfinals
Washtenaw United’s season ended on Tuesday night at Eddie Edgar Arena in Livonia with a quarterfinal loss to the #1 seed - and undefeated in league play all year - University Liggett Knights who are the reigning State Champions. The final score of 5-0 didn’t reflect the valiant effort Washtenaw put up, but even excellent defense and stellar goaltending couldn’t stop the undefeated Liggette from moving on to the semifinals.
Liggett kept Washtenaw pinned in their own end for much of the first period, cycling the puck and unsuccessfully trying to get one past netminder Julia Scarcella (Saline ‘22). The Washtenaw skaters did an exceptional job of helping out their goalie, blocking shots and clearing rebounds, led by Captain Jillian Eggleston (Dexter ‘22) and Chloe Dillen (Saline ‘24) in particular. Any shots that did get through were gobbled up by Scarcella, who stopped all 16 shots in the first period alone.
The second period saw the Liggett skaters increase their attack on the Washtenaw net, and the Knights finally got one past Scarcella with 12:20 left in the second period. Liggett scored again a little over five minutes later with an unlucky deflection after a sustained attack on the Washtenaw netminder and her defense. Although the remainder of the second period was scoreless, the ice remained tilted against Washtenaw, and the shot differential tells the story: 24 shots for Liggett, and only 2 for Washtenaw. Scarcella and the team did well to keep the score to 2-0 as the period ended.
Unfortunately, the size of the teams’ benches began to play a role as the third period began. The Knights iced 20 skaters to Washtenaw’s 14, a discrepancy that meant the Knights simply had more reserves as the Washtenaw skaters time on ice began to add up, and in the end Washtenaw gave up 3 more goals, two on break-aways. Washtenaw kept hustling, however, and their hard work was evident in the five penalties the Knights took in the third period. While they were unable to capitalize on any of the penalties, Washtenaw stayed disciplined themselves, only taking one penalty in the third period.
Reese Caryl (Saline ‘22) and Cecelia Henricksen (Chelsea ‘23) played well when Washtenaw was able to get sustained time in the offensive zone, each registering 3 shots on goal. Despite all their efforts, Washtenaw was unable to get one past Knight goalie Brooklyn Peshi, who made a total of 11 stops. Another bright spot for Washtenaw was Captain Eggleston, who never seemed to leave the ice, constantly working along the boards and at the Washtenaw blue line to push back against the strong Knight forwards. Scarcella was also a standout, facing an astonishing 50 shots for a .900 save percentage, preventing what could have been a blowout.
The disappointing result of their last game didn’t change what was an overall successful season for Washtenaw United. The team ended their season 7-10-2 in league play and played their way to the quarterfinals in the playoffs in their first year of eligibility, despite being seeded #13. Cecilia Henricksen (Chelsea ’24) led the team in goals with 16 and points with 29. Defenseman Jillian Eggleston registered 13 goals and 27 points to finish second in both categories. Raegan Kopitsch (Dexter ‘24), 12 goals and 18 points, and Sydney Clark (Saline ’25) 11 goals and 24 total points, trailed closely behind. Senior forward Makenna Lupi (Saline ’22) registered 5 goals, 3 assists for 8 points, surpassing her output the previous season.
One area that shined for Washtenaw was goaltending. Freshman goalie Trista Schreiber-Tracy (Dexter ’25) played well in the eight games she started, recording five wins and three with 2 shutout. Scarcella was solid in net all year, keeping Washtenaw in many games when they were outshot, and she finished the year third in the league in save percentage at .895.
All in all, Washtenaw had an outstanding year. After the game, Head Coach Adam Winters had this to say about the team: “I’m really proud to coach this group of talented, hard working young women. They surpassed expectations this year, and grew on and off the ice as the season progressed. I really wish we had a few more games left, we were peaking at the right time, getting better and better as the season went on.” Winters continued, “I want to mention our four seniors, Captain Jillian Eggleston, Assistant Captain Reese Caryl, Julia Scarcella, and Makenna Lupi. They provided great leadership throughout the season, we’re really going to miss all four of them. Having said that, we’re getting great contributions from our younger players. 3 of our 4 defenseman logging the most minutes are freshman or sophomores, 3 of our top 4 scorers are freshman or sophomores, and we’ll have solid goaltending with Schreiber-Tracy returning next season.”
As the team looks ahead to their third year, the future looks bright for Washtenaw United girls hockey. There will be a “Skate with the United” event on Sunday, March 20th at 4pm at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube for any interested eligible players for next season. Please see our website or social media accounts for more information.
INFORMATIONAL ADDENDUM: Washtenaw United is a High School Girls’ Hockey Team skating out of the Ann Arbor Ice Cube. The team serves High Schools within Washtenaw County that do not have a dedicated team to play for. Currently, Pioneer and the combined Skyline-Huron have dedicated teams. Washtenaw United is made up of players from Saline, Dexter, Chelsea and Milan. The team is in its second year of play as a member of the Michigan Girls High School Hockey League (MGHSHL).