Practicing with a new level of intensity under new Head Coach Marissa O’Neil, women’s ice hockey looks to overcome last year’s inconsistencies in order to become a power player in the competitive NESCAC.
Despite the fact that O’Neil joins the team from a position at Amherst, her players are already working as hard as possible for her. “She is looking to take this program to the next level,” captain Tracy Ferriter ’10 said.
Under O’Neil’s guidance, the team has stepped up its training off the rink and in the weight room. “We’re really focusing on getting stronger and faster,” said assistant captain Lauren Zurek ’11.
This strategy should help the Ephs play consistent hockeyÂ throughout long, close games, which seems especially likely given how evenly matched the teams in NESCAC seem this year.
Although Williams ended last season with a losing record, the Ephs have reason to believe in building off of last season. The women finished up league play with an 8-15-1 overall record and a 6-9-1 record in conference, and the Ephs were the seventh seed in the NESCAC tournament. However, the women feel their record did not tell the entire story of the season. They competed well even against the top-two seeded teams in the league and recorded wins against all the other squads, demonstrating how tight NESCAC competition will be this year.
Assistant captain and goalie Sarah Plunkett ’10 will be one of the keys to this year’s success after garnering All-NESCAC second team honors last year. Plunkett was a new addition to the team last year, transferring from Colgate and playing every minute of last season.
In terms of offense, the team will look to Ferriter, who led the team with 21 points last season. Defender Katie O’Brien ’10, forwards Eliza Foster ’12 and Hannah Systrom ’12 and defenseman Zurek should all contribute as well, as they all finished last season will double digit points.
The team will also look to its underclassmen to play an important role in the women’s success this year. “We got five freshmen this year, all of whom will have impact roles in one way or another,” said Plunkett. Indeed, with only 19 players, and only one back-up goalie, the team will have a short bench this year.
Under the guidance of a new head coach and with the return of its strongest offensive and defensive players, Williams seems to have a good chance at making its mark in the NESCAC after several seasons of inconsistency. Women’s ice hockey opens its season hosting Hamilton at home on Friday at 7 p.m.