Morristown-Beard Continues Girls Hockey Dominance With Third Consecutive State Title
Photo by: Jake Peregrin
The Morristown-Beard School Crimson and Pingry School Big Blue are no strangers to each other in the world of girls hockey. The teams met twice in the regular season and delivered an instant classic in the inaugural Librera Cup final. This left the two blue bloods to finish the season with a clash at the Prudential Center and the state championship on the line. The Crimson would sweep the season series against the Big Blue, taking the championship game 2-1 after a back-and-forth affair.
Morristown-Beard was in one tough situation after another in the first period, namely finding themselves killing off a 5-on-3 after Julie Jasaitis found herself in the sin bin for interference just a minute after Keira Redmond committed a tripping infraction. Crimson goaltender Hannah Mortazavi stood on her head when called upon, stopping all nine first period shots faced while Pingry controlled the pace of play. The period ended knotted at zero after Pingry goalie Kate Niccolare stopped both shots directed at her over the 15 minute frame.
After being outshot 9-2 in the first period, the Crimson came out with new energy in the second period behind Mortazavi's strong play. Mortazavi was not supposed to start, but starter Gracie Meyer’s skate blade broke while going out on the ice. While Mortazavi was making big saves, Meyers was getting help from a Toronto Maple Leafs trainer who is in town for tomorrow night’s NHL game. Meyers took her spot in the Crimson net for the second period They edged the Big Blue in shots for the period (9-8), with Plymouth State commit Lilli Warnock finding the back of the net to put the Crimson up by a tally. Both Jasaitis and Redmond found redemption for their trips to the box, assisting on the goal. The Crimson would hold the 1-0 lead going into the second intermission.
The third period was full of back and forth play, with constant transition and rush attempts going both ways. It would take until the halfway mark for a team to find pay dirt, as Kailin Kane cut into the slot after a shot from the point off the blade of Jesse Sperling, and her aggression was rewarded as the puck bounced back to her stick for a slick backhand over the outstretched glove of a sprawling Niccolare.
Pingry would pull Niccolare with around a minute left in the final frame, and mayhem ensued around the net with the extra body on the ice. After more than a few wacks, Charlotte Diemar would put Pingry on the board with their first goal of the night with only 8.6 seconds remaining. Morristown-Beard would win the ensuing faceoff, running out the clock and securing their third consecutive state championship.
Morristown-Beard won the inaugural state tournament back in 2020, finished the year ranked first in the state in 2021 when the game was canceled due to the pandemic, and won again last year in convincing fashion 7-0 over Princeton Day School. This third consecutive victory keeps them as the only girls team in the state to have won a championship. This game was Pingry’s first appearance in the state finals.
Gracie Meyer was outstanding in net for the Crimson when she came in, turning aside 13 of the 14 shots she faced and only allowing a goal with eight seconds remaining while Pingry had the extra attacker. Warnock and Kane were instrumental to this year’s championship run and throughout their four years with the program. It is fitting that these three players were the ones who led the team to a state championship in their final year. Sperling, Redmond, and Jasaitis all factored in on goals scored during the game while Mortazavi was tremendous in the first period. These four will return next year as part of a core nucleus expected to take Morristown-Beard back to the promised land once again.
1st Star(s) - Hannah Mortazavi (Morristown-Beard) 9/9 and Gracie Meyers (Morristown-Beard) 15/16, W
2nd Star - Kailin Kane (Morristown-Beard) GWG
3rd Star - Lilli Warnock (Morristown-Beard) 1G