Crippled by injuries and set back by several close losses, the women’s hockey team has faced many obstacles this season.

As a result, the team’s 6-14-3 overall record is lower than many had expected back in November.

“We’ve had as many injuries as I’ve ever seen a team have during my coaching career,” said head coach John Marchetti. “You can never predict what will happen to a team when you’re faced with the type of adversity we have seen.”

The Bulldogs’ latest casualty is forward Nicole Symington ’05, who went down last Saturday with a shoulder injury and will not be on the ice this weekend.

The team plans to dress only 11 skaters at Ingalls Rink tonight when it plays Sacred Heart University at 7 p.m.

Frequently outnumbered by opponents who boast upwards of four lines of players, the team has exhibited some strong, if inconsistent, hockey up to this point.

“I am pleased with the development of our players individually because I think everybody has gotten better,” Marchetti said. “Unfortunately, they’ve had to.”

The Eli offense, while occasionally stagnant, opened up this weekend for eight goals in the team’s two games. Forward Deanna McDevitt ’03 recorded four goals on the weekend, including a hat trick Friday, that put her atop the team scoring list with 25 points.

McDevitt is joined by Symington, Erin Duggan ’05 and leading goal scorer Sara Wood ’02 as carrying the brunt of the team’s offensive load.

The team’s overall defense has been its biggest question mark throughout the season. Goalkeepers Nicolette Franck ’04 and captain Katie Hirte ’02, who split time in the net, have both been extremely reliable in goal and regularly record upwards of 25 saves. However, they are too often faced with open shots from the slot when opposing players are not properly marked. Skating only four defenders in some games due to injuries has not helped the Bulldogs’ focus inside their own zone.

“Our defense has been satisfactory at best,” Marchetti said. “When you go into a weekend and score eight goals and you only get a tie out of the weekend, it tells you that there’s something defensively that needs to be adjusted.”

With a disappointing 2-9-1 league record, the team nevertheless will likely make the ECAC-North playoffs, and Marchetti said that the Bulldogs have made it their goal to advance to the league semifinals.