2020 STATE INVITATIONAL TOURNAMENT FINAL PREVIEW
HOW THEY GOT HERE
1-Morristown-Beard (17-8-1) vs. 6-Summit (15-6-2)
7:30 p.m. Thursday at Prudential Center
— 12-2 win over Randolph in the first round
— 4-2 win over Pingry in the quarterfinal round
— 7-6 shootout win over 2-Trinity Hall in the semifinal round
Summit hit a rough stretch between the middle and end of January, which brought it down to earth after a 7-1-1 start to the season.
The team made some adjustments, shifted its lineup around and has now completely put that 2-4-1 skid in the rearview mirror with wins in six of its last seven games.
When the offense is clicking, this team is at its best. Coach Matt Stanbro can confidently throw out two very strong lines that are capable of putting the puck in the net each time they hit the ice. Overall, Summit is 15-1-1 when scoring at least three goals this season.
Much like Morristown-Beard, Summit has a strong balance of youth and experience throughout the lineup.
Junior Caroline Sharpe leads the team with 33 goals and 60 points on the season and she became the first player in program history to reach 100 points in a career. Her sister, Emily Sharpe, has 16 goals and 23 points of her own in what’s proving to be a solid senior season. Fellow senior Lily Neilan is third on the team with 22 assists.
Junior defenseman Maisie Hiltabrand provides a little bit of everything for this group, offering a stabilizing presence on the blue line in the defensive end but has the ability to jump into the play and produce, as evidenced by her 14 goals and seven assists.
Then you have the youth group featuring sophomores Leah Rubinshteyn and Taylor Cornell and freshman Elizabeth Puskar. Those three have combined for 55 goals and 35 assists.
Lily Spinner is putting together a solid debut season between the pipes as a freshman. She came up big with three saves on four shootout attempts in the semifinal win over Trinity Hall and is going to come up big if Summit wants to make history.
— 9-0 win over 8-Immaculate Heart in the quarterfinal round
— 6-2 win over 4-Oak Knoll in the semifinal round
The Crimson had a tough season in WIHLMA play, winning two of six games in the Hengerer Division but the team has been lights out against New Jersey opponents. With Monday’s win over Oak Knoll in the semifinals, Morristown-Beard’s in-state record improved to 13-0.
This team has a very strong mix of youth and veteran leadership and there isn’t just one player counted on to produce.
Leah Stecker and Lilli Warnock are the team’s leading scorers as a sophomore and freshman respectively with a combined 27 goals and 31 assists. Alexa Degan is another freshman who has excelled on the blue line with four goals and 17 assists, one of which was the game-winner in the Prep Tournament final in overtime. Sophomore Logan Sutera has seven goals and 10 assists of her own.
Those players have been able to blossom thanks to the leadership provided by the likes of seniors Anna Bajak, Abigail Russell and Kaitlin Skorzewski. Those three have been able to be difference-makers in all three zones and have combined for 22 goals and 34 assists. Junior Faith Facchini also has big-game capabilities with 19 points, including seven goals and a team-high three game-winners, on the season.
In goal, Sasha Berniker has carried the bulk of the workload down the stretch and she continues to give her team a chance to win on a game-by-game basis. She has four shutouts and a .911 save percentage through 15 appearances.
Players worth the price of admission
Morristown-Beard: Leah Stecker, Anna Bajak, Kaitlin Skorzewski
Summit: Leah Rubinshteyn, Caroline Sharpe, Emily Sharpe