As the first Walpole High girls hockey player to commit to play Division II hockey, senior captain Francesca Bonanno has signed her letter of intent to play at McKendree University — located an hour outside of Chicago, Illinois.
“I am super excited” said Bonanno. “It has been a dream of mine to be able to play college hockey since middle school, and I could not be happier that I made it. All the hard work is definitely paying off.”
Bonanno has been the starting goalie for the Lady Rebels for the past four years. She led Walpole to its first playoff berth in three years during her junior year and to one of its longest playoff runs in school history during her senior year. Additionally, Bonanno earned a spot on the Bay State League First Team All Stars this year as well as last year.
“Getting to Round Three is the farthest the girls have gone, this year being the fourth time doing so is amazing. I am so proud of our team and our accomplishments this season, and I feel honored to have co-captained this team,” said Bonanno.
This season, Bonanno and the Rebels finished with a record of 12-9-2, including playoffs. Bonanno ended the year with a total of five shutouts, with two alone in the playoffs. In her final game against Notre Dame Academy of Hingham, Bonanno had 48 saves alone in the 2-0 loss.
“Having her behind me for the past four years has been really reassuring because I always knew she was going to put her best effort out. I think it is really awesome that she is going to pursue her dream in college because she will for sure have an impact out there,” said senior captain Cam Johnson.
In addition to playing for Walpole High, Bonanno has also played for a club team, King Philip Walpole, for the past 12 years. With this club team, Bonanno played with the boys side until a girls program was developed five years ago. Four out of the five years since, Bonanno and her team have won the playoff championship. In addition, they have advanced to the state finals four out of five years too.
With her many years of experience, Bonanno should make an immediate impact to the McKendree roster.
“Of course I am only going to be a freshman, and may not get a good amount of playing time, but I know I can work hard and earn my time. The coaching staff told me hey were looking for a goalie who will work their hardest, both on and off the ice, one who is mentally strong and is consistent — the whole package. They believe I have the potential to fit into this category,” said Bonanno.