On Friday, Nov. 15, the women’s hockey team will travel to Williams for the 2013-14 season’s first drop of the puck. This will open a schedule in which the Cardinals hope to rebound quickly from their recent difficulties on the ice.
The 2012-13 season was a struggle, to say the least. The Cardinals scored the fewest goals and gave up the most goals per game in the entire NESCAC on their way to a conference-worst 2-14 record. Head Coach Jodi McKenna, however, noted that her team is ready to put that underwhelming season behind them.
“The contributors we’ve had in the past are just older, another year older,” McKenna said. “So, I think the combination of our returners and the new people that we have in are going to help turn the tide.”
The good news for Wesleyan is that the team only lost three seniors to graduation. The bad news is that one of them was four-year starting goaltender Ashleigh Corvi ’13.
“We lost our starting goaltender, who had been starting since the first drop of the puck her freshman year,” McKenna said. “So, when you lose that sort of presence it can be an adjustment.”
The Cardinals, however, believe they have a group of key players that can compensate for the loss heading into this season. The offense will be spearheaded by forward Jordan Schildhaus ’15, who led the team in goals last year and was awarded NESCAC Rookie of the Year two seasons ago.
“She has just been a…great player for us,” McKenna said of the junior.
The Cardinals will also look for leadership from their three captains: Glenn Hartman-Mattson ’14, Cara Jankowski ’15, and Sydney Morgan ’14.
“[Hartman-Mattson, Jankowski, and Morgan] are our leadership group,” McKenna said. “We’re looking for those guys to step up.”
Key players aside, the main strength for Wesleyan this year may be the team’s depth. Despite losing senior leadership, there is no shortage of veteran talent on the team, so Wesleyan’s major players will have a large, experienced supporting cast to fall back on.
“We have way more depth than last year,” McKenna said. “We need that depth from everyone.”
A well-rounded cast is certainly an asset for this year’s squad, but whether it can help translate into a winning year remains to be seen. McKenna is certainly hopeful.
“We want to represent the team well,” McKenna said. “We don’t want the record that we have had in the past. We weren’t happy with it, players and coaches alike.”
The Cardinals are hoping that they have improved enough as a team from last year in order to achieve a single, central goal: a postseason berth.
“Obviously we want to make playoffs,” McKenna said. “We want to represent Wesleyan in the NESCACs.”
This is actually a humbler ambition than it may seem, even for a team that is coming off a cellar-dwelling season. Last year, after all, Colby snatched up the last playoff spot with a lowly conference record of 4-12. This is because the league only has nine teams and the postseason is structured such that the top eight all earn tournament spots. In other words, only the very last place team misses out.
The Cardinals, who occupied that unfortunate spot last year, are hoping to change things this time around.
“We’ve been on the cusp of what we have, though this program has been turning around for about two seasons now,” McKenna said.
It is safe to assume that every team member wants this to be the year that the team finally pushes into postseason play.