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READING — After last year’s shortened season that saw it only win one game, the Reading High girls hockey team is ready to get back on track this season.

In what will be an always tough Middlesex League, the Lady Rockets are anxious to return to the ice and show what they can do.

Fifth-year coach Alexa Hingston (31-25-16) is happy to get back to a full schedule and for the girls to be back in the rink playing hockey.

“We are looking forward to getting back to a normal high school season,” said Hingston. “The girls are all excited to be back and play a full schedule this year and hopefully be able to play a full 20-game season. It's great to see high school hockey back in the rinks this year.”

Last season in nine games, the Lady Rockets went 1-4-4, ending their season losing 5-1 to Burlington in the Middlesex League tournament.

With this year’s team being primarily made up of underclassmen, Hingston will turn towards her two senior captains Maddie Rzepka and Solana O’Shea to lead the way.

“We have quite the younger group this season with a few eighth-graders joining us and more than half our team being underclassmen,” said Hingston. But, our two senior captains, Maddie (Rzepka) and Solana (O’Shea) are doing a great job connecting with the eighth-graders and freshmen to get them all on board.”

One of four graduating seniors from last year’s team was goalie Casey Machera, who was a great weapon between the pipes the last few seasons for Reading.

Replacing Machera in net will be eighth-grader Alexandra Herbert, who Hingston is impressed with so far and is excited to see what she will bring to the team.

“Alex (Herbert) is young but she has a solid foundation and is quick in the net,” said Hingston.

Reading’s offense this season will be led by captains Rzpeka and O’Shea, who were both key contributors last season.

Also returning to the offensive line for the Lady Rockets are junior forward Lacey Carciero and sophomore Aly Sumner, who had a great freshman campaign for Reading last season.

“We are looking for those four to anchor our offense this season,” said Hingston.

Along with them, Reading is also returning junior Victoria Bean on offense.

After only having 15 skaters on last year’s squad, Reading is welcoming a brand new group of players including nine freshmen hoping to make a splash.

The Lady Rockets are adding a slew of underclassmen to the offense this season and they include freshman Brooke Tango, Gianna Bonfiilio, Gisella Ciano, Aubrey Fabiano and Katie McKinnon, all who are hoping to contribute. Also joining the offense is eighth-grader Danielle Bowers.

On the blue line, Reading returns the strong trio of juniors Elise Verrier and Cara Joyce as well as sophomore Delia Roy, all who played key roles on last year’s team.

A new addition to the defense this season will be junior Jayda Hayes, a transfer, who Hingston expects to be a key contributor.

Along with Hayes, also joining the Reading blue line are freshman Libby Quinn and eighth-grader Samantha Toomey.

Playing roles on both offense and defense this season and also joining the team are three more freshmen Jessica Hoag, Paden Nelson and Gabrielle Rose-Thornton.

Reading is gearing up to start its season this Saturday (Dec. 18) at Burlington. Hingston knows the team still has work to do, but is happy the girls can get back to having a bit of normalcy with a full schedule and team bonding.

“The team is starting to come together and play as a team over the last two weeks,” said Hingston. “We have a lot of work to still be done in preparation for December 18th. Even though we are young and inexperienced we will compete every night.”

After only playing Liberty Division opponents last season, Reading will be back to normal schedule playing every team in the Middlesex League as well as non-league games against Billerica-Chelmsford (Dec. 20), Arlington Catholic (Dec. 27), Central Catholic (Dec. 30) and in the Hingham Hockey Showcase to end the regular season.

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