Needham High School girls hockey's 2021 class of seniors pose for a picture before their game against Newton Co-op on February 13. Photo by Needham High Athletics
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Needham High School varsity girls hockey saw a little bit of everything in 2021.
Coming off a 5-2 victory against rival Walpole on January 16 in which junior defenseman Maddie Ledbury incredibly scored all five goals, the Rockets were sitting pretty at 3-0-0 and in first place in the Herget Division. Unfortunately, adversity struck. Due to COVID protocols, Needham was forced to cancel each of their next three games against Weymouth and Braintree (twice).
After two weeks of quarantine and remote learning, the Rockets returned to the ice on February 3 for a matchup against Milton. Like any team that was forced to sit around for two weeks, rust was present for Needham as the Rockets fell 2-1.
Following the defeat to Milton, it would have been easy for the Needham girls to pack it in and continue the trend of playing rusty hockey. Instead, the Rockets worked hard in practice and off the ice to get their legs back under them and improve their scoring touch. Just three days after falling 2-1 to the Wildcats, the Needham girls played an almost perfect hockey game, shutting out Milton, 4-0, to get back in the win column. Some similar names found their way on to the scoresheet: senior forward Charlotte Tolman (two goals), Maddie Ledbury (one goal) and senior captain and forward Maddy Foster (one goal).
On February 10, Needham traveled to Watertown to take on Newton Co-op, looking to make it two wins in a row. The Rockets not only got their second straight win, but also their second straight shutout, thanks to a 16-save performance by senior captain and goalie Kenzie Kelly. Senior captain and forward Grace Kelley scored both of Needham's goals, each assisted by Maddie Ledbury.
Coming off two straight wins, Needham extended their point streak to four games with a pair of ties in a back-to-back against Newton Co-op (3-3) and Wellesley (1-1) on February 13 and 14. The two ties against Newton and Wellesley brought Needham's final record to a respectable 4-1-2.
It certainly was not the ending that Nora Focht, Maddy Foster, Cammy Foster, Caroline Han, Kenzie Kelly, Grace Kelley and Charlotte Tolman had in mind for their high school hockey careers. But, battling back from the COVID pause and earning points in four straight games to end your careers the way these Needham seniors did was extremely admirable.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.