On Jan. 26, 2003, the women’s ice hockey team was nowhere where they had hoped to be in many regards. They had managed a meager four wins, while dropping a crushing 12 losses. A .500 record was something to dream of. This year, however, after much hard work and effort, the dream has become a reality.
The Bulldogs (7-7-3, 4-3-0 ECAC) handed Union (3-18-1, 0-6-0) a pair of losses — 6-0 and 5-2 — this weekend at Ingalls Rink to reach the .500 mark for the first time since Nov. 11, 2003. The wins marked a shift for the Bulldogs to a level of hockey that has eluded them for sometime.
Head coach Hilary Witt attributed much of Yale’s recent success to the breakout play on offense not present in the earlier part of the season.
“The line of Sheila Zingler ’07, Deena Caplette ’06 and Nicole Symington ’05 played fantastic,” Witt said after Saturday’s win. “They’re our go-to line, and they dominated the play when they were in. That’s the kind of performance we need to win.”
In Saturday’s match-up with Union, Yale continued to dominate its opponent. On offense, the scoring fell on the shoulders of a number of Bulldogs. Suzanne McGoey ’06 scored first for Yale, off an assist from Caplette. Forward Kristin Savard ’07 found the net twice shortly after McGoey’s goal within a mere 74-second window. Kelsey Johnson ’07 rung in the final two goals to give the Bulldogs a comfortable 5-2 victory by the end of the third period.
Starting goalie Sarah Love ’06 took a hiatus from action against the Dutchwomen in order to give backups Carrie Horbatuk ’07 and Nicolette Franck ’04 some game time. Horbatuk suited up for Saturday’s game, while Franck took the game on Friday.
“I think both Carrie [Horbatuk] and Nicolette [Franck] did a good job this weekend,” Symington said. “They both work really hard, and it was nice to see them each get a win.”
Horbatuk recorded 11 goals saved Saturday afternoon, while Franck racked up 21 in her first collegiate shutout on Friday. Dutchwoman Lauren Carlson tallied 49 saves in Saturday’s attempt and Mandy Hanson finished with 47 saves in the earlier game.
In Friday’s match, Erin Duggan ’05 assisted Symington to put Yale on the board early in the first quarter. Despite a 31-9 shot advantage in favor of the Bulldogs, the game stymied with neither team scoring until the end of the second period, when Caplette and Zingler assisted Johnson on a shot past Hanson.
Yale broke away from the Dutchwomen in the third quarter with a barrage of goals. Savard foretold her ability to score frequently with a pair of goals in only 33 seconds. Caplette scored the fourth Yale goal shortly afterwards, and Natalie Babony ’06 ended the scoring spree with a goal on an assist from teammate Ali Turney ’05.
“It was really great for us to see a lot of different people scoring,” Babony said. “It shows us and other teams that we have a deep lineup that can answer a challenge at any point.”
The Bulldogs have won four of their last five games and appear to be in the best possible shape yet to face Ivy League competitors Brown and Harvard this weekend. Harvard — the Bulldogs’ longtime archrival — is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation by U.S. College Hockey Online, and is predicted to be Yale’s toughest competition to date.
“Our preparation this week will be crucial to prepare ourselves to play two top teams,” Symington said. “We will need to raise our play both individually and collectively if we hope to be successful this weekend and down the road.”