first_imgFourteen girls from Mater Dei Prep trudge into the Middletown Ice World rink a few minutes before another 8 a.m. practice on most school days.“They come walking in tired, and then everything is fine. You can see their passion for the game,” said coach Olivia Mucha, who will guide the Lady Seraphs into their maiden season as one of the few girls ice hockey teams in New Jersey. “They want to be there, and they’re excited.”Because of that, they’ll play a tri-state schedule against teams from Pennsylvania and Long Island, N.Y., as well as New Jersey.Garden State opponents include Summit High School, Pingry School, Morristown- Beard School and Princeton Day School.Mucha seems pleased with the team’s progress. Their time spent before the start of the school day is regarded as part of their academic curriculum in physical education.Although it’s a new team, half of the players have played before for Mucha’s New Jersey Titans U16 travel team that plays in the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Hockey Association with five other teams and is 7-4-1. She also coaches a Titans U12 team that plays in a division against six other teams. She started coaching in July after graduating from Princeton University, where she played women’s hockey from her freshman year and was sidelined midway through her senior season last winter with a “health issue.” She could not play after that. Now she’s director of the Titans’ women’s ice hockey program that has four age-level teams, including her two squads, a U8 team and a U10 team.A few of Mater Dei’s girls play for the Brick Hockey Club and another with the New Jersey Colonials out of Morristown.Mater Dei will open its season on Dec. 1 against Portledge School in Long Island. “My biggest thing is teaching basic skill — all the little things [like] passing, give and gos and breakouts in the zone,” Mucha said. “Every goal scored comes from working together.”Mucha understands the value of the finer points of the game. She said she has played hockey since she was 3 years old and excelled in her high school years at The Hotchkiss School, a private school in Lakeville, Conn.“Every game at Princeton was memorable,” she said. “I just loved every game to put on a jersey and the challenge of it. I always enjoyed working with my teammates, getting advice from my coaches.”She earned a degree in developmental psychology at Princeton and said her biggest challenge is that each player is motivated differently.The most enjoyable part of it all, she said, is “every kid brings attitude and different skills. It’s getting to see it all work for the game.”She hopes to see that come together when the team plays Summit at Middletown Ice World at 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 4.The roster includes juniors Alexa Kaminski, Samantha Gatti and Jordan Pirrello; sophomores Tabitha Franceschini, Jesse De- Vito, Mia Beuthe, Elisabeth Hill, Brianna Haviland and Sarah Gallagher; and freshmen Mackenzie Materese, Lexie Tedeschi, Caitlyn Keenan, Tea Ferrara and Ally Freeman.After the Summit home opener on Dec. 4, the Seraphs play another home game at 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 11 against Pingry, followed by a Dec. 19 game against Summit in Bridgewater at 5:15 p.m.After the holiday break, action resumes on Jan. 8 (6:30 p.m.) against Princeton Day, on Jan. 15 (3:30 p.m.) against Pingry in Bridgewater, on Jan. 17 (3 p.m.) at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., on Jan. 30 (5:00 p.m.) against Morristown-Beard in Twin Oaks and on Feb. 2 (5:45 p.m.) at Princeton Day. By WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent last_img

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