Before the women’s hockey season started, Yale head coach Joakim Flygh said he expected a lot of his incoming freshman class.
“They’ll get lots of opportunities to play in games this year to prove themselves,” Flygh said. “They can make a big impact.”
Through a dozen games, his words have proven prescient.
Defenseman Kate Martini ’16 and forwards Janelle Ferrara ’16 and Jamie Haddad ’16 have been the top three point-scorers this year for the Elis, with 10 of the team’s 15 total goals having come from the class of 2016. Haddad, Ferrara and forward Hanna Astrom ’16 are also among the team’s top four in shots this season.
“Our freshman class was recruited to produce goals and to contribute to the team’s success in any way,” Haddad said. “We weren’t expecting to come in and ride the bench.”
In each of Yale’s wins on the year, two of the Bulldogs’ goals have come from freshmen. Martini scored the team’s first goal of last Friday’s win over the University of Connecticut and later added the game-winner in overtime. On Oct. 26 against Colgate, both Haddad and Ferrera scored a goal in the Elis’ 3–0 victory.
Alyssa Zupon ’13 said the squad has relied on the freshman class more so far this season than in previous years.
“They possess very diverse strengths,” Zupon said.
Despite the rookies’ efforts, the team is 2–10 on the season and has only one conference win. The Elis have been outshot 482–216 and outscored 41–15 by opponents.
Still, this year’s campaign has been a marked improvement over last year’s. Twelve games into last season, the team had one win and was in the midst of a four-game winless streak that would stretch to 21 games by the end of the year. Yale had surrendered 554 shots on goal and was on the wrong end of a 67–11 scoring margin.
“We’ve had losing seasons and we’re still losing , but we have significantly more goals than we’ve had in the past,” Haddad said. “We’re not … going to make that miraculous jump to league champions, but … we’re at least contributing to start that journey. That’s what it’s going to be, a journey, and it won’t happen overnight.”
As the year continues, the freshmen hope they can continue improving.
Ferrara said that the first-year players continue to learn from their more experienced teammates and that the team is making strides with each game.
“If we continue to [get better], we feel as though we can make some noise in the ECAC,” Martini said.
Martini is the eighth-highest scoring defenseman in the conference and holds the team lead in goals, a feat she said she did not expect.
“I was expecting to make a greater contribution defensively than offensively, but the fact that I have been able to get as many points as I have is definitely a pleasant surprise,” Martini said.
But there are more than just three players in the freshman class. Defenseman Ali Austin ’16 has played in only two games this season due to a concussion, though Haddad said that she should return in January. Astrom has played in every game this season, picking up a goal and an assist so far.
“Hanna is a great power forward and is always a threat around the net with her shot,” Zupon said.
Backup goaltender Rachelle Graham ’16 has not appeared in a game yet.
Their teammates hope that the freshmen can provide leadership in the future and help to turn the program around.
“This class has great potential — I’m proud of them so far and am happy to be able to play with them this season,” Zupon said.
The team will take a break from games this weekend before taking on Union and RPI on the road on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8.