After a tough string of conference games over the winter break, the Yale women’s hockey team is preparing for more Eastern College Athletic Conference competition this weekend.
Yale (7–9–1, 4–6 ECAC) will host Cornell (7–6–3, 5–2–2) on Friday and Colgate (4–17–0, 1–8–0) this Saturday. The Bulldogs are preparing to take down the Big Red and the Raiders in the hopes of remaining in consideration for the playoffs.
“We are focusing on strengthening our mental side of the game and sharpening up our systems,” captain and defenseman Aurora Kennedy ’15 said. “At this point in the season, it’s all about the small details. We have all the skill and potential necessary, we just need to sharpen up the little things.”
According to Kennedy, the losses over last weekend can partially be attributed to poor starts in the first periods that do not match the strength of the play in later periods. In the last weekend’s matches against Princeton and No. 4 Quinnipiac, the Bulldogs only took a combined 13 shots in the first period, compared to 18 and 19 in the last two periods, respectively.
In practice this week, the team worked mostly on teamwork and play in the defensive zone in order to help earn more scoring opportunities for the offense, according to defenseman Mallory Souliotis ’18.
“We need to work on playing better as a unit,” Souliotis said. “We’re working on [having] the defense and the forwards communicating more so its a little less chaotic and we can control the puck more.”
Yale has played Cornell once before in this season, and the game resulted in a 6–2 defeat for the Elis. In the last match, Cornell used their defensemen often in the offensive zone, something the Yale team was unprepared for. This time, according to Souliotis, the Bulldogs will hopefully be ready to face this unusual style of play.
The players feel good about their chance against the Big Red and are hoping for a chance to redeem themselves the second time around. The team is also very positive about a possible victory over Colgate, who they defeated earlier in the season.
“We need to be earning points every weekend,” forward Gretchen Tarrant ’17 said. “I think it is completely feasible for us to sweep both games this weekend, and that is the bar we are setting for ourselves.”
However, Cornell will be a tough opponent, as the team has not been defeated since Nov. 22, when the Big Red faced now No. 7 Minnesota-Duluth. Cornell is also averaging 3.31 goals per game and is second-best in the ECAC, behind Harvard.
Souliotis echoed her teammates’ thoughts, also mentioning that the team needs four points this weekend, although playing well as a team and working hard are equally important to the team’s success.
“We definitely want to make the playoffs for the ECAC tournament,” Souliotis said. “As a team I think we can all agree that where we are is not where we want to be and we want to improve our standings in the ECAC.”
According to Tarrant, the team’s goal is to go as far possible, but right now the priority for the Elis is moving up in the standings in order to position themselves for a playoff run.
The team is taking the season one game at a time in order to fully prepare to face each opponent, Kennedy said.
The Bulldogs will face the Big Red today at 4 p.m.