Five players to watch
Alison Butler , St. Mary’s: After collecting 17 goals and 44 assists as a junior, the 5-6 senior forward has 137 career points. She possesses a superior hockey IQ and always knows exactly where she needs to be during critical game moments.
Kim Lizotte , Westford: A four-year varsity player, the 5-10 senior was a big factor in turning around a program that had been 0-19 prior to her arrival. She possesses outstanding speed and elusiveness, which helped her collect 34 points last year while raising her career total to 116 points. She will play field hockey in college.
Shannon O’Neil , Austin Prep: The 5-6 senior captain is the backbone of a squad that features two eighth-graders and a freshman in its starting lineup. She regularly kept her team in games last year by saving upwards of 35 shots. The Tewksbury resident sees the puck extremely well and possesses great reflexes. She has been highly recruited by Division 3 programs.
Brittani Lanzilli , Medford: The 5-4 junior forward is back with the Mustangs after spending her sophomore campaign at St. Mary’s. With 197 career points entering the season, she has already collected six points to surpass the 200-point plateau. Lanzilli has fluid skating skills, a strong shot, and the ability to carry the puck coast-to-coast.
Kayla Smith , Woburn: As a junior she registered 60 points for the Tanners, giving her 165 points for her career. The 5-9 senior captain boasts a big-time shot and excellent stick skills. She will play at the Division 3 level, but is still undecided as to which school.
Five teams to watch
St. Mary’s (21-4-1): Last year’s state champion runner-up to Arlington Catholic, the Spartans lost two seniors, including defender Rachel Donahue, who now plays at Salve Regina University, along with three underclasswomen to prep schools. The squad does return 10 players — led by senior captain Alison Butler — and stands poised for another Division 1 title run.
Westford Academy (18-3-2): The Grey Ghosts retain four conference all-stars from last season’s Division 1 semifinalist squad, including the Lizotte sisters, senior Kim and sophomore Sarah, junior Lindsay MacDonald, and senior Erin Mealy. They also feature a standout netminder in sophomore Kerri Pouliot, who keeps them in most games.
Woburn (16-4-2): The Tanners lost three seniors, including forward Bryana Harron, now playing at Franklin Pierce University. However, most of the core from last year’s team that fell in the quarterfinals to eventual Division 1 state champion Arlington Catholic, 3-2 in a shootout, remains intact.
Winthrop/Lynn (14-5-1): A nice rivalry has developed with neighboring St. Mary’s as this co-op squad looks to advance beyond its first-round exit from last year’s tournament. Look for senior forward Kara Donati to assume more scoring responsibilities if the Bulldawgs are to repeat as GEMIHL Northeast League winners.
Chelmsford (15-4-3): After losing a couple of their leading scorers from last season, the Lions look to stay competitive in the Merrimack Valley/Dual County League Large, where they finished second last year, and advance past last season’s first-round tourney loss to Hingham.
Compiled by Paul LazdowskiPaul Lazdowski can be reached at email@example.com.