Pfeiffer establishing her own standard at Hartford High

  • Zoe Pfeiffer passes to a Hartford teammate during the Hurricanes' 18-4 win over Mount Mansfield Union in White River Junction, Vt., Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News file – James M. Patterson

  • Zoe Pfeiffer

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/4/2021 11:36:23 PM
Modified: 6/4/2021 11:36:19 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — During her three seasons playing for Hartford High girls lacrosse, senior Zoe Pfeiffer has rewritten the program record book.

She missed her junior season because of the COVID-19 pandemic but set five different Hartford records anyway, along with several program firsts. Two of those five records — most single-season goals and points — she set as a sophomore, then broke her own record as a senior.

Pfeiffer is Hartford lacrosse’s top scorer — boys or girls — with 150 career goals. She also owns the girls lacrosse career points record at 203. She’s the first girl in Hartford history to score 100 goals and 200 points, and the fifth to score 100 points.

The achievements are meaningful for her, and the record-breaking moments are thrilling. But she tries to block it out of her mind during games as much as possible.

“I try not to focus on (the records) too much because it is really exciting, but it also adds a little bit of stress,” Pfeiffer said. “It kind of shines a spotlight on me, like, ‘What is she going to do next?’ or, ‘Is she going to get 200 points?’ which can kind of be stressful. But it’s also been super exciting, and I just feel so lucky to have a team who is there for me and has helped me achieve these accomplishments.”

Thanking her team isn’t a mere display of humility — by all accounts, Pfeiffer is extremely team-driven, an effective leader and a role model. Hurricane underclassmen look up to her and aspire to do what she’s done on the field.

Junior Caroline Hamilton said that contrary to what the goal records would suggest, Pfeiffer passes as much as she shoots. Hamilton said when someone makes a mistake on the field, Pfeiffer is good at giving them pointers and picking them back up.

“I think something important to note about Zoe is, regardless of how many goals she has, she is not a selfish player whatsoever,” Hamilton said.

That leadership comes naturally for Pfeiffer. She has an innate ability to sense how her teammates are feeling and to know what can help.

Hamilton recalled a practice before Hartford’s important late-season win against Green Mountain Valley School in which the team was clearly tired. As practice started to wrap up, Pfeiffer had an outside-the-box idea. She asked head coach Heather Hartford if the team could play a game of ultimate frisbee.

The Hurricanes played for around 30 minutes, and Hamilton said it was exactly what the team needed — both mentally and strategically.

“The whole team was just laughing, but we were also simultaneously working on talking and cutting and getting to open space. And then the day after, in our GMVS game, we were talking and cutting, and it was one of our best games ever,” Hamilton said. “I think it’s because we took a break from being so serious and so nervous, because Zoe wanted to play ultimate Frisbee. Zoe knows what our team needs.”

In games — as the records indicate — Pfeiffer is an electric athlete whose strong play lifts the team around her. She — along with her coach — thinks the biggest progression she’s made since her freshman year is her confidence, which quickly translated into leadership.

Coach Hartford said Pfeiffer’s high lacrosse IQ is one of her strongest assets on the field. Hartford cited a play during that Green Mountain Valley game where Pfeiffer pressured the goalie and forced the ball out of bounds. Pfeiffer saw the opponents out of position behind the net, picked up the ball and immediately went to the open net and scored. That play sent the Hurricane crowd into a frenzy and energized her teammates.

“That was just an amazing lacrosse play, and to just react within seconds, to know exactly what to do at that time, in such a big game,” Hartford said.

“To have that confidence in that intensity, you can’t teach that. That’s innate in a player. That changed the whole momentum of the game. Everybody was fired up and it frazzled the goalie. Those are those moments in a game that make a huge difference that it could go one way or another.”

As Pfeiffer winds down her Hurricane career and looks ahead to attending the University of Vermont, she’s hoping she’ll be remembered as a good leader and teammate rather than just a record-setting player.

But those records and prolific stats are a big part of the legacy Pfeiffer will leave behind.

“I think every female, and probably male, lacrosse player (at Hartford) for many, many years is going to know the name Zoe Pfeiffer,” Hamilton said.

“I think she’s definitely left a legacy, not just in the record books but as a leader and as a person in our school. I think until someone — if someone — ever beats her records, she’s gonna be a big name around Hartford women’s lacrosse.”

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Seth Tow can be contacted at

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