By Ben Gurlitz
Union’s women’s hockey team ended their season this past weekend with a pair of 4-0 losses to St. Lawrence and Clarkson. However, the weekend will surely be remembered by the Dutchwomen’s seniors who graced Messa Rink for the last time in their college careers.
This year’s seniors, Marissa Gentille, Perry Maduri, Callee Heywood, Elsa Perushek, are the first to play all four years under Coach Claudia Asano and have impressed many people on and off the ice. On the ice they are statistically the best class in Union College women’s hockey history recording two conference wins. Off the ice they have been equally impressive; all four were named to the 2009-2010 ECAC all-academic team, while Perushek, Heywood, and Gentille were given the honor as sophomores.
When asked about the impact that the seniors had on the program, Asano was filled with admiration. “The bottom line is they work really hard,” she said after the game. “There have been lots of changes in the years that they were here.”
Unfortunately the seniors were not able to be seen off with a win on their final weekend. In the first game it looked as though it might be Union’s night, until just after the midway point in the first period when Saints defender Brooke Fernandez found the back of the Union net. Fernandez had a helping hand in every St. Lawrence goal on the night, assisting on the next two, before doubling her tally with seven minutes left to go in the third.
The next day Clarkson came out looking to throw the first punch. And they did, taking a mere 21 seconds to open the scoring, when forward Jauna Barlbeau collected a pass from Carly Mercer, and coolly slid the puck under junior goaltender Kate Gallagher. Barlbeau added another as Clarkson eased past the Dutchwomen.
Although on paper the Union’s season may look abysmal, there are many positives that can be taken away. The Dutchwomen have a strong nucleus that will be returning next year including their two leading scorers juniors Lauren Hoffman and Lauren Cromartie. Junior forward Émilie Arsenault, arguably the Dutchwomen’s most exciting player, will be returning too.
Although winning the ECAC would be a lofty expectation, next year looks like the year that the Dutchwomen will finally get out from the bottom of the league. As a Chinese philosopher once said, “A journey of a 1,000 miles begins with one step.” The Dutchwomen have certainly taken that step and are on their way up in the ECAC standings.