By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Coming off an 11-6-3 season in 2017-2018 that earned them a spot in the Division I state tournament, the Needham High School girls varsity hockey team returns to the ice this season looking to make some noise in the Bay State Conference.
The Needham girls will get two shots at Braintree this season (January 12, February 9) to avenge their season-ending defeat last February. Needham’s schedule also features a pair of matchups against rival Walpole, two against Weymouth, two against Natick, two against non-league foe Westwood, but just one against arch-rival Wellesley due to divisional realignment.
Leading the Rockets this season will be a duo of senior captains in defenseman Elizabeth Phalen and defenseman Brooke Reilly.
With a significant part of the team’s leadership positioned on the backend, Needham will also look to senior forward Lexi Schmalz to supply leadership and production on its top-six forward unit. Two other key names to watch out for on offense from Needham this season are junior forward Celia Blaszkowsky and freshman forward Britt Nawrocki.
“Our main goal is to always work hard, stay together, and to always remain positive,” said Schmalz on her team’s general vibe heading into the season.
Defensively, Needham will obviously rely heavily on the play of their two captains, Phelan and Reilly, but also expect freshman Maddie Ledbury to make a big impact in her own zone for the Lady-Rockets this season.
The Needham girls will open up their season against Brookline on December 12 in Brighton before traveling to Natick on December 15. Needham plays its home opener against Walpole at Babson Skating Center on December 19.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.