By Nancy Haggerty
Elizabeth Wulf, Keira Goin, Michaela Murdock and Mary Taussig will play hockey Wednesday.
Nothing unusual there. All four got hockey sticks before their second teeth and now spend nine, sometimes 10 months a year on the ice.
But Wednesday’s game means more than most.
The four local teens and their Mid Fairfield Connecticut Stars teammates will face Assabet Valley (Mass.) in the Tier I U19 national championships’ opening round in San Jose, Calif.
The Stars qualified March 10 with Larchmont resident Wulf scoring two third-period goals (burying a rebound, then scoring on a breakaway deke) in the 3-1 New England regional final win over the favored Connecticut Polar Bears.
The Stars’ record is plain ordinary at 11-10-1. But despite facing the top two U19 girls teams in the U.S. in Assabet and Shattuck St. Mary’s School of Minnesota (their other guaranteed bracket game is against the Alaska All-Stars), the players didn’t consider packing a white flag with their jerseys.
“We’ll definitely compete,” said Murdock, 18, of Chestnut Ridge, whose hockey history began at age 4 with The Moose of Hackensack, N.J.
She’ll write her next chapter this fall at Division III Manhattanville.
Before doing so, though, coach Moe Tarrant’s “do-anything-she’s-asked” forward/defenseman wants to add some pages to her current chapter.
Murdock, the only one of the four without previous nationals experience, was ill for the New England title game. But she watched and figures, at nationals, her squad will need to duplicate its third-period play.
That late three-goal charge reflects the Stars’ year, which began with three losses (one to the Polar Bears) in four games in an August tournament.
Wulf, 18, Tarrant’s “dynamic forward,” who started playing at 6 with the Mamaroneck Tigers, said team chemistry grew as the season progressed.
“Once we were comfortable on a personal level, things started to click on the ice,” said Goin, 18, of Dobbs Ferry, who played at 7 in an in-house league at Elmsford’s Westchester Skating Academy.
Most Stars attend prep school — seniors Murdock and Goin and junior Wulf playing for Hotchkiss and senior Taussig for Greenwich Academy.
But the Utica-College-bound goalie Goin contrasted her squad to some super-intense opponents, explaining, “Hockey is not necessarily what my teammates’ worlds revolve around.”
Still, when coming up short in a Christmas tourney, “(the seniors) on the team realized it was the end run of their high school career,” Goin said. “Something happened to us internally. We started to perform better as a team.”
The same thing occurred against the Polar Bears, according to Murdock.
“It was potentially our last period of the season and, for a lot of us, our last period before college. It hit us we didn’t have another shot,” she explained.
Now the season includes at least three more games.
“It’s going to be hard but fun,” said the defenseman Taussig, 17, of Larchmont, another former Mamaroneck Tiger (starting at age 5), who plans to play Division III lacrosse and club hockey at Colorado College.
The Stars, in fact, may have an advantage, as Murdock explained, because there’s nothing to lose.
“The coolest things about the Stars is that nobody expected this to happen,” Goin said.