After strong performances against Dartmouth and Harvard that saw women’s hockey earn their first conference win since 2014, the team continued to show positives signs last weekend with competitive play in back-to-back rivalry matchups against crosstown rival RPI.
In the midst of a tough stretch in recent history for the women’s hockey program, the team is at what seems to be the start of a promising future.
The Dutchwomen, although still sitting at the bottom of the best conference in women’s college hockey, have been competitive all year, especially recently.
One of the team’s most promising efforts came against Harvard on Jan. 14. Following a close loss to Dartmouth the previous night, the Dutchwomen went into Cambridge seeking their first win against Harvard in program history, as well as their first conference win since 2014. After trailing 2-1 early, Union showed resiliency to force the game into overtime before winning on a rebound goal by Katie Laughlin ’18.
Harvard doubled Union’s shots in the contest, with rookie goalie Kate Spooner ’20 collecting 40 saves over the course of the game. The win was a microcosm of the season thus far; although the Dutchwomen have had ups and downs, they’ve displayed positive consistencies throughout.
With a combination of young players stepping up in big spots and veteran leadership carrying the team down the stretch, the team has built an interesting dynamic to ensure growth and success.
According to Head Coach Josh Sciba, “This dynamic has been nurtured by veteran players hungry for change at the start of the year. They have set a great example for the younger players.”
The team’s resiliency has really shone through over this season. The team has scored the final goals in each of their last five games, including in both rivalry games against RPI. Sciba noted, “This resiliency derives from the team consisting of all-the-time players that play hard for 60-65 minutes. This is a product of a mindset to compete for the entirety of a game.”
Most promising for the program is the forecast for future success that the team has laid out this year. Currently, the team’s first-year players outscore all other class years combined on the team. The class of 2020 is led by Haley Shugart ’20, with six goals and four assists. Additionally, the team is backed by first-year goaltenders, specifically rookie standout Kate Spooner ’20 who is third in the ECAC in saves this year.
As for the remainder of the season, Coach Sciba said, “We want to make sure we have no regrets with how we play the remainder of our games.”
The Dutchwomen (4-21-1) return to play this weekend against the top two teams in the conference in St. Lawrence (19-3-2) and Clarkson (18-4-4).