TOWSON, Md. - It’s almost a cliché to use the word “miracle” in any context when describing a hockey game.
But how else would you characterize a team winning a regional championship, its first year in the league, with the bare minimum of players?
“It’s hard to wrap your head around it. We’ve come so far in just one season,” Beth Kennedy, a Towson University sophomore, said. “Teams work so hard to get even close to getting a championship. I’m definitely proud of the team and all the support that we’ve got to get us here.”
Kennedy is the captain and president of Towson’s women’s hockey club team. And with just nine teammates she’s also a starting defender.
The team won a league championship its first year in existence against high profile schools like the University of Maryland, Rutgers University and the U.S. Naval Academy.
“There was definitely a lot of pressure,” Kennedy said. “We knew it was going to be a challenge because all those teams had been around for 12 years since the league started. We were just coming out new.”
The season started off with a loss to Navy—one of the bigger, more established clubs in the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference.
“They had 20 something girls,” Kennedy said.
Monique Burgers, a senior Towson student, added “We had two subs. … Half of us felt like we were dying afterward.”
But the Tigers kept it close, dropping the first game by a four-goal margin.
“It was a nice back-and-forth game. They weren’t dominating us,” Burgers said. ( And yes, it’s Burgers, “plural. More than one,” she said. “It’s Dutch apparently.”)
The Tigers would go on to drop the next two straight games starting the season at 0-3. And then came the game against Maryland.
“We almost got in trouble for that one,” Burgers said. “We took our aggression out on the first three games on Maryland.”
The league has a sportsmanship guideline that discourages teams for leading by more than 11 goals. Towson triumphed 15-3.
“We went a little crazy,” Burgers said. “We came together and I don’t think Maryland was expecting that from us.”
The team went on to win seven of its next eight games, losing only to the Lady Terrapins in act of pure revenge.
In the playoffs, Towson knocked out Maryland in the opening round by a 4-1 margin, before eliminating Navy 4-2 in the semifinals and Slippery Rock in the finals with a whopping 11-3 final score.
“For Beth and I, it’s just great to see all of our work pay off,” Burgers said.
Kennedy thought about creating the team in Feb. 2013. After unraveling a length of bureaucratic tape , both girls set out across the Towson campus to hang flier, “real old school,” Kennedy said.
There was small but strong initial interest in the sport.
“We worked really hard to secure the roster,” Kennedy said.
Two of the women dropped out leaving the team with the minimum 10 to play out the season. But the response, Kennedy said, was immediate.
“We want to get more interest from girls coming to Towson who want to play. … I like a small team, but at the same time it would be nice to have two lines of girls,” Kennedy said of the team moving forward.
Burgers added, “her and I are already talking about things we can do next year to improve. … Ideally it’s to grow and make our name known and let girls know that they do have this option to play hockey at Towson.”
And there is always the possibility to bring hockey to the newly-minted SECU Arena on the university’s campus.
“Yeah we’ll get a hose,” Kennedy quipped.