Half-dozen Jr. Sharks girls make NCAA, ACHA commitments
The San Jose Jr. Sharks continue to churn out players for the women’s college ranks.
Recently, four players from the Jr. Sharks’ 19U AA girls team and two more from the girls high school squad announced their college destinations for the 2018-19 season.
Forwards Angelina Cruzal (Buffalo State University, majoring in English and Writing, minoring in Photography) and Sierra Donahue (Suffolk University, Psychology) and forward-defenseman Kiley Searles (Suffolk, Pre-Law) played on the national runner-up 19U AA team this past season and are off to NCAA Division III schools, while forward Celine Long (University of Colorado-Boulder, Biology and Integrated Physiology) also played on the 19U AA team and is heading to an ACHA D-I institution. Forwards-defensemen Terynn McNairnie (Biology with an Emphasis in Exercise Science) and Kaitlyn Zaballos skated for the high school team in 2017-18 and both will play ACHA D-I hockey at second-year Grand Canyon University.
“Overall, one of the most important things with all these kids is that they are all homegrown, from our area or within our program,” said Jr. Sharks high school hockey and girls-women’s coordinator Amanda Long. “A couple of them when they were younger started in other spots and a couple started a little later than others, but it’s remarkable for us to see them start when they were playing 8U and playing all the way through our program.
“These schools are starting to recognize us as one of the top programs in the West and I take great pride in that. None of this happens easily – we still have to put in the work and the time, and we’ll keep doing that. The great thing is seeing these kids not only develop as a hockey player, but also into a young lady.”
Long also discussed each of the six commitments and what they have meant to the Jr. Sharks over their time in the association.
Cruzal: “It’s been great to see her come from playing with the girls at a young age and then transitioning back after playing with the boys for a couple seasons. She did the right thing in making the transition back to girls hockey and has done a great job of finding a spot for herself there. She’s got great hands, a good shot and is very much a finesse player.”
Donahue: “She’s just such a hardworking kid who doesn’t complain about stuff. She just puts her head down and just goes. She backchecks hard, she forechecks hard, she grinds in the corners. She’s a player that sums up what our program is about. It’s been neat to see her grow since the first time I coached her at 12U.”
Searles: “I have fond memories of her when she was really young. She told me she wanted to play for the Olympic Team. I love that attitude when these kids have big dreams and big goals and a passion for the game. Kiley has come such a long way since then, overcoming many obstacles.”
Long (no relation): “Celine came to our program as a teenager and I quickly saw potential in her when I was coaching our 16U team. She was playing 14U at the time and played some games with us. She definitely stepped up her game big time and the progress she made in such a short amount of time is huge.”
McNairnie: “She had dreams and goals of playing in college and I told her she needed to find the program that would put her there. She made the decision to join our program, which was her first year playing travel hockey, and she loved it.”
Zaballos: “She was one of our veteran players on our high school team this season. She had approached me at one point regarding the college hockey process and she took it upon herself to find an opportunity that worked for her school and hockey goals. She’s found a good spot for herself and I think she is very excited to go.”
— Matt Mackinder
(May 24, 2018)