WOMEN’S HOCKEY: Bulldog’s return to form, dominate weekend of ECAC play
The Yale women’s hockey team posted an impressive weekend of league play with wins over RPI and Union.
The Yale women’s hockey team (10–1–1, 6–1–1 ECAC) returned to its strong form this weekend with a 3–0 win over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (5–14–1, 1–7–1) and a 6–1 victory over Union College (8–8–1, 3–5–1).
Coming off a winless weekend that saw the Bulldogs drop their first game of the season, the team used the games to get back to the high quality of play that has garnered them the No. 3 ranking in the country.
“We talked a lot about defensive zone coverage and getting back to the basics,” head coach Mark Bolding said. “We played fine [against Cornell and Colgate]. There was about maybe a five to eight minute stretch in both games where we kind of let our guard down and they capitalize and, you know, you lose league points. So frustrating but they’ve refocused and applied what we talked about and didn’t give up a lot of odd man rushes and kept it simple. It was nice to get the two wins.”
The win against RPI was a dominant defensive performance by the Bulldogs, as Pia Dukaric ’25 posted her fourth shutout of the season.
Dukaric has received numerous honors for performance this season thus far, including Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA) National Goalie of the Month. She also garnered recognition from the ECAC with three Hockey Goalie of the Week honors in the month of November, resulting in ECAC Goaltender of the Month. She also earned ECAC Co-Goaltender of the Week on Dec.13.
On offense, rookie Jordan Ray ’26 continued her hot start to the season with one goal and two assists, contributing to all three Bulldog goals of the night.
The Elis carried the momentum into the following game with a 6–1 thrashing of Union that saw them outshoot the Dutchwomen 46–12.
“We had really good chemistry right from the start,” forward Charlotte Welch ’23 said after the Union win. “We just came out ready to go. Last night, it was a pretty good game for us. I think we just wanted to keep it going and leave it all out there before a couple weeks break.”
11 seconds into the game, Tabea Botthof ’23 scored the first goal after she poke-checked the puck away from a Union player along the boards. The puck, ricocheting off of Botthof’s stick, slipped through the Union goalie’s five-hole as she attempted to collect the puck.
The goal was the perfect end for Botthof, as the senior graduates at the end of the fall semester. Her departure will leave a hole in the defensive lineup that will have to be filled in by younger, less experienced players on the roster.
“She’s a true pro. It’s going to be really hard to replace her,” Bolding said of Botthof. “She’s committed on and off the ice. The hard part about losing her at this time of year is that it doesn’t happen very often. But you know, you’re in school, COVID happened. So a lot of adjustments were made to our players’ lives, trying to make their own personal decisions. So we respect her a lot.”
Botthof has served as a veteran leader on the team and has seen the program change during her time as an Eli. The team’s record has transformed from 8–18–3 in her first season in 2018-19 to a 26-9-1 record this past year.
The Erding, Germany native will now take her talents to Stockholm, where she’ll play professional hockey after playing in a total of 97 games throughout her Yale career. Botthof also plays on Team Germany in international competitions.
“I’m excited,” Botthof said. “Obviously, I’m sad, because it’s always hard to close a chapter. But this was such a great time, like formative years — actually four and a half years right with the COVID gap year. I was just so happy to be part of this team. And also now [to be] moving on.”
The team now enters its winter break with no games until Jan. 2 as the Bulldogs currently sit in second place in the ECAC standings, with a Jan. 21 matchup against No. 4 Quinnipiac looming large on the schedule.