Bryn Mawr failed to reach the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League championship game for the first time in seven years this winter.
Still, Mawrtians co-coach Delbert Adams considers the season a roaring success.
The coaching staff focused on rebuilding the varsity with a core of inexperienced players, who, by the end of the year, were winning games that wouldn't have seemed possible in December.
Bryn Mawr finished with a respectable 8-6 record.
"It was pretty amazing to watch their development," said Adams, who shares coaching duties with the school's headmistress, Maureen Walsh. "I think we were pretty successful based on what we tried to achieve. What we did was develop a team. We had a lot of young players and some who had never played or skated before."
The proof of Bryn Mawr's progress came in the form of some late-season game results.
The Mawrtians beat Hill School, of Pennsylvania, 3-1, on Feb. 3, on goals from senior Maggie Cashman and juniors Ellie DeGarmo, and Lindsay DeMuth.
"We had never beaten them before," said Adams, noting tough losses to Hill in 2011 and 2009. "They took it right to Hill right off the bat. They started to really get it. It was like graduation night, where everything came together."
Junior goalie Stuart Ferrell made several nifty saves and finished with a career-best 26.
"I would say it was probably her best performance," of the season, Adams said. "She has come a long way this season. We had a goalie coach work with her."
Bryn Mawr also beat powerhouse Holton-Arms, of Bethesda, 4-2, on Feb. 9 after an embarrassing 14-1 loss to the Panthers in December.
The Mawrtians recorded only seven shots in the first meeting, but unleashed 26 shots on Holton-Arms' backup goalie in the rematch.
"We had more success than people anticipated," said Bryn Mawr senior forward Laney Mann, who plays on a line with DeGarmo and senior Anna Feiss. "We had girls at all different levels on the team. That brought a challenge. There was a lot of individual play, but by the end of the year, we melded into a team."
Switching DeGarmo from defense to forward and sophomore Lindsay Hexter from forward to defense made the Mawrtians better at both ends of the ice.
"They were two key moves," Adams said. "DeGarmo helped strengthen one of our lines. I gave Hexter a shot in the last month of the season, and she just looked like a defenseman. Her anticipation was great and she just made great decisions."
Adams figures the Mawrtians will be taking another step forward next season, considering juniors Ferrell, Caroline Joy, DeMuth, DeGarmo and Jen Marshall give the team a solid nucleus to build around.
"I think we will be contending for a championship next year," Adams said. "I definitely do. We are strong at forward. The junior class is very strong and the goalie is coming back."