First-year head coach Molly Wallner leads Latin School

Kate Pohl is offensive leader for co-op Latin School, among top scorers in Metro Girls

By Ross Forman

Latin School of Chicago is skating among the elite Metro Girls teams, eyeing the Scholastic Cup, with seven ties battling for bragging rights to the top-tiered playoff title.

Fenwick and New Trier each have 8 points in Scholastic Cup action, while Barrington has 4.

Latin School is 1-3 in Scholastic Cup play.

“There are many teams we have faced that have a great amount of talent on them, but I have faith that, if our girls continue to work hard day in and day out and play as a team, we have a chance to come out on top,” said first-year Latin head coach Molly Wallner, who has coached for first years. She was at New Trier in 2014-15, plus has been on the bench for Winnetka and Team Illinois teams.

Wallner, 28, a Chicago resident, is an account executive for North American Corporation. She led Winnetka to a state championship in 2015 and coached three years for TI.

Wallner played high school hockey from 2004-2007, then a season for the Chicago Young Americans before moving on to Lake Forest College from 2008-2012.

She was the LFC captain as a senior, which inspired her to give back to the game – through coaching.

So far this season, she said things have been “going pretty well” for co-op Latin.

But, she added, “The back half of the season is going to be tough, but we can be successful if we play our game and everyone stays healthy.”

Latin already has been impacted by a season-ending injury to junior forward Charlotte Lawrence (Whitney Young High School), which was “a big hit,” Wallner said. “(Lawrence) was a great leader on and off the ice for us.”

Lawrence had 5 goals, 8 assists in 11 games.

Still, Latin is anchored on great goaltending and good defense, “which can definitely take us far,” Wallner admitted.

She added, “We need to learn to take advantage of the opportunities that we get on offense.”

Senior forward Kate Pohl (Latin School) leads the team with 18 goals, 12 assists in 12 games, including 4 game-winning goals. Her 30 points is third-most in the league, behind New Trier’s Ella Huber (33) and Barrington’s Kelly Gorbatenko (31).

Other key players for Latin are senior defenseman Sadie Heller (Jones), junior defenseman Izzy Perpich (Lane Tech) and junior forward Anna Hoese (St Ignatius).

Key freshmen include defenseman Annabelle Merkel (Lane Tech) forward Emma Heinig (Whitney Young), and goalie Maya Gonzalez (Whitney Young).

The team has meshed well under the first-year head coach, she said.

“The girls have come together well and are playing more as a team instead of individuals,” Wallner said.

Latin lost 1-0 to league-leading Fenwick in late-November, and Wallner said it was the “best three periods” that the team has played to date.

Latin’s run in Metro Girls, and eventually in the state tournament, will be impacted by Annabelle Merkel, among others. Merkel “is always looking to work hard and get better,” Wallner said. “She has been tremendous on defense for us this year.”

On The Bench With … Latin School of Chicago Head Coach Molly Wallner

Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Jonathan Toews
The 2019 Stanley Cup Champion Will Be: Tampa Bay Lightning
Hardest Slapshot on Latin: Annabelle Merkel
Most Accurate Shot on Latin: Kate Pohl
Fastest Skater on Latin: Kate Pohl
Player Who Could Be A Coach One Day: Charlotte Lawrence
Best Coaching Advice: “Have confidence in yourself and you will succeed.” – Carisa Wahlig, Lake Forest College Women’s Hockey Coach.
Hockey Pet Peeve: “Not moving your feet.”
Hockey Superstition: “I have the same routine to get ready before every game.”

Ross Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center. Contact Ross by email at

Categories: Girls' Hockey, High School, Hockey Headlines, Ross Forman's High School Hockey

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