When Dave O’Toole took over as head coach of the Archbishop Spalding girls hockey team this winter, he wanted to beef up the program’s coaching staff.
So O’Toole boosted the number of coaches from three to six with assistant coaches Jeff Vogel and Bryan Manning joining the varsity squad. An emphasis was put on offense.
“We wanted to change the methodology,” O’Toole explained. “There is a lot more time for the new coaches to work with the players who needed skill development. In the past, you had highly skilled girls who would dominate for each team. Now, we are getting production across the board, which is what I really wanted to see.”
This year, the Cavaliers had three scorers who powered the team instead of one. Senior forward Mia Estrada led the team in scoring and right behind her were two freshmen forwards, Anastasia Lambropoulos and Rosalia Maldonado.
The trio helped Spalding finish the season with a flourish. The Cavaliers won five straight – including two playoff games – before losing to Visitation Academy of Frederick, 11-2, in the Mid-Atlantic Girls Hockey League championship on February 10 at Rockville Ice Rink. Spalding finished the season 7-3.
Things were different in the Cavaliers’ other two playoff games.
Spalding beat St. John’s College High School of Washington D.C., 4-2, two days earlier during a semifinal in Rockville. Estrada and Lambropoulos scored two goals each while Maldonado chipped in three assists. Spalding sophomore goalie Kaylee Daigle stopped 21 or 23 shots.
O’Toole has been impressed with the growth he’s seen in Daigle, who has been playing the position for only two years, but she has provided consistent play she’s provided all season long.
“She has developed really well,” O Toole said. “I remember her last year when she was the backup on the varsity, and she played a lot on the JV. She continuously worked over the summer to get better. She is very determined. She is working all the time to get better.”
Daigle also plays club hockey for the Maryland Black Bears in Gambrills. She was a difference-maker in her team’s quarterfinal playoff rout of Holton-Arms, with 10 saves in the 13-2 win.
Estrada had what was perhaps her best performance of the season, totaling five goals and two assists. She plays on a first line with senior Mollie Calabrese, a Severna Park resident, and Maldonado.
“Mia is very experienced and has played some high-level hockey,” said O’Toole, noting Estrada’s experience with the Washington Pride. “She is a very good skater and is strong. “She is able to move through players. She is able to control the puck really well.”
The Cavaliers will miss Estrada’s scoring ability, but they will return Maldonado and Lambropoulos, who spearheaded the second line of seniors Sophia Randall and Kylie Horter.
“They are going to end up being the face of the program,” O’Toole said of Lambropoulos and Maldonado. “They are going to help other club players look at the school and say, ‘I want to be part of that.’”