‘Three-peat mentality’ solidifies Liggett girls hockey dynasty

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 6, 2023

 Liggett celebrates its third-straight state title in style.

Liggett celebrates its third-straight state title in style.

Photo provided by Cassie Jaeckle


GROSSE POINTE WOODS — There’s a hockey dynasty emerging in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett girls hockey had been dominating the Michigan Girls Hockey High School Hockey League Division 1 for back-to-back seasons with state title wins, but there was pressure for a three-peat for Liggett’s 2023 senior class.

Like many dynasties, there’s often a defining moment or game that propels the team over the opposition, and for Liggett (20-0-1), that defining moment was a late-season game against city rival Grosse Pointe South.

For two seasons, Liggett was unbeaten during the regular season, and during the team’s quest for another unbeaten year and a third-straight state title, a 1-1 tie with South would be a blessing in disguise for Liggett.

“I feel we definitely needed it,” senior captain Morgan Hamilton said. “We definitely needed a little kick in the butt to tell ourselves that we’re not going to win everything and we’re not going to get everything the way we want it to be. I think that really pushed all of us to work harder, have better mindsets going into games and practices, and to play with everything we have and not just for fun.”

Just a month later, on March 11, Liggett would meet South in the MGHSHL State Championship Game at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth. Outscoring opponents 15-1 entering the state finals game, Liggett would continue its storied success, earning a 3-0 win and the team’s third-straight title and fourth in school history (the other championship was in 2014).

Junior goaltender Brooklyn Peshl, who earned second-team all-state honors, collected another shutout in net, adding to her 1.07 goals-against average and .921 save percentage this season.

Junior assistant captain Allie Roth scored the game-winner while junior Sullivan Estes and sophomore Sofia Secco each tallied a goal.

Hamilton didn’t have an ideal view at the final buzzer but said it was the best feeling she could’ve ever imagined.

“I was in the penalty box for it, but honestly my heart was pounding,” Hamilton said. “I thought I was going to be on the ground having a heart attack. I was in awe, and I was in shock to just think, ‘Wow, we just made history and we just beat Grosse Pointe South,’ who’s our biggest rival, and especially with me being a captain and my first year being a captain and winning that and helping all these girls work as hard as they can and work together.”

Hamilton finished third on the team this season in points (32) with 15 goals and 17 assists, and Liggett centers Elle Quinlan, a junior, and Giuliana Lufty, a senior, who are arguably two of the best in the state, led the way on the offensive end.

Quinlan tallied a team high in goals (21) and points (40) while Lufty finished second in goals (20) and points (33).

Liggett head coach Cassie Jaeckle said the centers served a key role for not just their squad, but their linemates as well.

“Every line had a flavor, but if you take it and go down the line of why all these centers were so special, it’s because they covered so much ice and they were spark plugs for their lines,” Jaeckle said. “When they were on, their whole line was on.”

While both major impact players, Hamilton and Lufty led a strong senior core that not only had an unbreakable chemistry, but three-straight titles to their name.

Alongside Hamilton and Lufty, seniors Gabriella Noble, Isabel Standish, Emmalyn Stahl and Alexandria Metry have all been a part of the varsity team since their first state title together in 2021.

While all leading by example on the ice, the senior class’s off-ice leadership was pivotal to Liggett’s success. Also pivotal was junior Bella Metry's transition from forward to defenseman, which Jaeckle said was a championship-winning sacrifice by Metry.

“If you want another state championship, you got to follow the lead of your veterans and your seniors, and some of the juniors too,” Jaeckle said.

Liggett’s slew of young guns are primed to chase the program’s fourth-straight state title. Liggett’s 2024 senior class includes Quinlan, Metry, Estes, Ancona, Peshl, and assistant captains Annaclaire Doppke and Roth.

Sophomore Sophia Secco, who tallied 18 points during the season, had a team high four goals during Liggett’s playoff run and paired with freshman Avery Welsh, who finished with 21 points, for a dynamic underclassmen duo.

The senior classes come and go, but their impact is long-lasting due to their success and the standard that they’ve set.

“If you talk to them throughout the year, they always use the term ‘family,’” Jaeckle said. “It’s just a really close-knit group of kids. You see when they leave that winter sport and go into the spring sport, they follow each other into that sport. They’re just that close.”