Heidi Donoghue is a mother of four and a member of the Briarcliff community. During the public speaking session of a February meeting, she went before the board to suggest forming a varsity girls ice hockey team. Two of her children, Michael, a sophomore, and Maeve, a freshman, play on the Mt. Pleasant Ice Cats, the joint varsity ice hockey team of Briarcliff, Pleasantville, Westlake, Keio Academy, Hastings and Scarsdale.
The Ice Cats currently sport three female players, all of whom are freshmen: Maeve Donoghue and Presley Kmeta-Suarez of Briarcliff and Josie Driscoll of Pleasantville. All three girls play on their own club teams and aren’t new to the sport. Maeve and Presley played varsity eld hockey this fall and are involved in other sports like lacrosse and competitive gymnastics. Josie also plays girls lacrosse volleyball. However, the girls’ multi-sport prowess doesn’t always help transitioning to boy- dominated competition. It has been an adjustment to play with boys, but the girls have found their skating legs and are confident when heading out on the ice.
“I wish more girls would come out and play,” said Kmeta-Suarez. “That way having a full girls team would be easy and would teach more people the sport is for everybody.” However, fielding several teams would be difficult. Just one school, Rye Country Day, in the Lower Hudson Valley has a full women’s team. But Josie, Maeve, and Presley aren’t the only ladies out on the rink playing with guys. Many other schools in Section One have girls on their rosters. Somers/North Salem has four girls on its 13-skater roster, and they all play. Pawling/Dover has six girls on its roster, according to Lohud.
Checking is illegal in girls hockey while controlled checking is legal in guys hockey. The girls mentioned they try to expect or anticipate a check when battling for the puck because it is possible when playing an intense contact sport. However, there are some unwritten rules that players of opposite genders tend to stick to when trying to gain position for the safety of the skaters on the ice.
“It has been an adjustment, learning to play with boy, but being on the team has brought me closer with the other players and helped me learn even more about the game,” said Donoghue.
Heidi Donoghue told the board there have been discussions among schools around Section 1 about eventually forming something like a six-team league.