After losing two straight games last weekend to one of the nation’s top programs, the women’s hockey team is hoping to have success this weekend in rematches with two league opponents.
The Bulldogs will return home to Ingalls rink this weekend, playing Friday at 7 p.m. against Colgate (10-12-1, 1-6-1) before Saturday’s 4 p.m. contest with Cornell (4-14-1, 3-6-1).
The Elis lost a 4-1 game to Cornell Nov. 30 and then beat Colgate 4-3 the next day on freshman Nicole Symington’s breakaway goal in overtime.
Yale has not won a game since Jan. 19, but recent strong performances against No. 3 Northeastern and No. 6 St. Lawrence have demonstrated the team’s improvement over the season.
“The game against Northeastern showed that we have come a long way this season, since we played with them the whole game,” said goaltender Nicolette Franck ’04 after the team faced off against the Huskies several weeks ago.
For a while the Bulldogs’ power play was causing other teams great distress, but lately the man-advantage seems to have cooled.
“Although the power play hasn’t recently been as sharp, our past success gives us the confidence to know that it can work,” said Symington, a forward who leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 10 goals and 12 assists. “Having worked on a few new forechecks recently gives our team more options of what to throw at the other teams in trying to create offense.”
Symington has been playing with Deanna McDevitt ’03 and leading goal scorer Sara Wood ’02. But because of an injury, Wood is questionable for this weekend’s games, so the Bulldogs may have to scramble.
But this is nothing new for a team that has been ravaged by injuries all season.
“We’ve had to make some adjustments as to how we were playing since players are logging more ice time,” said head coach John Marchetti. “Everything changes, [including] how they forecheck and how they play from shift to shift, depending on how much energy we have.”
One thing that has not been a question mark for Yale this season has been the team’s goaltending tandem of Franck and captain Katie Hirte ’02, who have been splitting ice time and regularly recording upwards of 25 saves a game.
“I think that we will be stronger physically this weekend than last time we played them because we have played a lot of very tough teams since we last played Cornell and Colgate,” Hirte said.
The Raiders are playing their first year in Division I this season, and have showed promise in the ECAC-North, beating the University of Vermont and playing Yale and Brown to close finishes. Freshmen Cheryl Setchell and Kristin Cirbus have made quick impacts on the team, scoring a combined 17 goals and earning 37 points between them. Earlier this season, Setchell was named the ECAC Rookie of the Week.
In the last Yale-Colgate game both Setchell and Cirbus scored. Later in the game, senior Heather Murphy notched a goal from the blue line with nearly no time left on the clock to send the game to overtime, where Symington sealed the victory with less than a minute remaining.
After stumbling to a 1-7 start, Cornell was able to grab some big wins. The Big Red are coming off a strong weekend in which they defeated Harvard 4-2 and fought No. 7 Brown to a 2-2 lock.
“It just comes down to a team effort,” said Cornell head coach Carol Mullins. “We want to put two [winning] weekends together, that’s what we’re looking for. Yale is certainly going to give us a great game.”
For their play last week, defender Brooke Bestwick was named ECAC-North Player of the Week and goaltender Sanya Sandahl was named Goalie of the Week. Bestwick is one of several Big Red defenders who frequently takes shots from the point, and she is currently second on the team in goal scoring.
Sandahl had 42 saves against Brown, including 18 in the first period alone.
“We don’t have the big superstars but the team has taken it upon themselves to come together,” said Mullins.
Marchetti noted that although Yale’s play has improved thus far this year, so has that of the other teams.
“Over the course of the season, teams will change, including ours. But we feel very confident we’re going to have a good weekend,” he said.