March 13, 2023 – Story and photos by Joshua Ross
It’s been a few days since the Harborwomen lost 3-2 to Shrewsbury in double OT in the Elite Eight of the MIAA D1 State Tournament. Trailing with a few minutes to go, Shrewsbury tied it up on a power play goal sending the game into OT. Both teams had chances in the extra sessions, including Hingham’s power play in the first OT. As time was winding down in the second OT, Shrewsbury’s captain scored her second goal of the game on a breakaway ending Hingham’s season.
It’s still a little tough to talk about for coaches and players, but first-year head coach Courtney Turner is proud of her team and what they accomplished this season.
“It was a great season,” Turner explains. “We started the season 1-3-1 and to finish it in the Elite Eight is quite an accomplishment for a group that came together throughout the season. We’re definitely bummed but we are hungry to come back next year.”
The team will look very similar next year and we can talk about expectations later, but Turner will be losing five seniors who have been part of the varsity program for almost everyday of the past four years.
“Losing five seniors, those guys were the heart and sole of the leadership on this team,” Turner said. “I think the younger kids learned a lot from them – how to be a teammate, how to treat each other, how to play the game the right way. On that end, we are losing a big chunk of our team, but we do have some really great talent in the younger kids, obviously, and we have some 8th graders coming up and I’m really excited for the group.”
As heartbreaking as this loss was, the seniors will look back in a few years and see the success this team is bound to have for years to come and can take solace in knowing they were not only there for the start of something special, but they were a catalyst for a new era in the Harborwomen hockey.
Something Turner brings to the team this year is on-ice experience she can use to teach to the players as situations arise. It so happens, she lost a similar type game in high school and shared that with the team.
“When I was as Dexter-Southfield we had a game that was similar to this, went into two or three overtimes,” recalls Turner. “It was heartbreaking at the time, but the thing I remember is the times with my teammates. The first thing I said to them after the game was ‘go get your goalie.’ It’s more important to build those friendships, especially in those really difficult situations where it can get extremely emotional, but these people will be friends your whole life. I think facing adversity brings a team closer together, so hopefully that can help us in the long run.”
Anyway you look at it, this season was a success, especially with a new coach and new system. There is a ton of talent currently on and coming up to the team next year. Expectations will be high, rightfully so, and Turner welcomes the challenge just like she did this year as a first time coach. She also is thankful for being given the opportunity to be in this position.
“I think the fact that we had a successful first season while I’m here and it solidifies the idea that females can coach teams,” reflects Turner on the past few months. “I’ve had so many experiences where people say ‘you have no coaching experience’ but I think the results speak for themselves. Taking a team who lost in the first round last year to the Elite Eight this year I think a lot of coaches or athletic directors can take away that you just have to trust that people are capable. I had a lot of playing experience and Coach Q (AD Jim Quatromoni) trusted that I would be able to get it done and I really appreciate him for giving me that chance because other people have not.”
Turner will be the first one to say that there is room for improvement for everyone involved with the team, starting with the coaches. But when asked about how much of it is “X’s” and “O’s” and how much of it is relationships, she points out the importance of starting with a good foundation of healthy relationships.
“I think it’s a 50/50 split between the two,” she says. “They aren’t going to listen to my “X’s” and “O’s” until we have that good relationship. They trust I know what I’m doing and I trust they are going to listen what I am saying and respect me. But we also like to have fun.”
If this year is any indication, next year should be a lot of fun.