With an abundance of returning talent, the Cardinals won't be easy marks for the NESCAC this season

The women’s hockey team hopes to bounce back this season from a disappointing 2014-2015 campaign. Leading the way is head coach Jodi McKenna who enters her ninth season at the helm of the program. After finishing in last place in the NESCAC a year ago with an 8-14-1 record, the squad looks to return to the playoffs this year.

The team will sorely miss the talents of forward Jordan Schildhaus ’15, who led the Cardinals in scoring with 15 points last season. Schildhaus finished a fantastic career with post-season honors, including selection for the First-Team All-NESCAC lineup, and being named a New England Hockey Writers Association Division III All Star.

The team returns 16 players this season and will look to them for both veteran leadership and offensive production. Captain Ellery Sarosi ’17 finished third in scoring last year, and, along with Jess Brennan ’17, Rachel Aronow ’17, and Hailey Sholty ’17, will look to make an even greater offensive impact this year.

Along with Sarosi, captain Laura Mead ’16 will provide key leadership as a forward. Lottie Barton ’16 will also lead from the back as Cardinals’ defensive anchor.

The goalie tandem of Laura Corcoran ’16 and Corinne Rivard ’16 will vie for time between the pipes this year, after Rivard earned the starting spot last year, taking over for Corcoran who earned the position the previous year. Last season, Rivard posted a .929 save percentage in 16 games, allowing 2.06 goals per game.

The team has shown great effort in the off-season and in pre-season workouts. Sarosi expressed this in an interview with The Argus.

“With our first couple of games right around the corner and the start of Little Three play coming up the first weekend of December, we’re really focused on a strong start,” Sarosi said. “Having brought in seven freshmen and losing nine seniors, we knew the team would have a very different feel to it, but in working through pre-season and in getting ready for our first games, we’ve really come together as a unit. Individually, everyone is stepping up their play and it has been great to see the freshmen bring new talent and extra energy to the team. Overall, our goal has always been to be the hardest working team on the ice, and with this team, if we accomplish that goal every game, this will be a really successful season.”

Madzie Carroll ’17 echoed many of these sentiments, emphasizing the team’s eagerness for the start of the season.

“We’ve been working extremely hard all preseason and couldn’t be more excited to start playing games,” Carroll said. “Our schedule is a bit different this year. We have a few out of league games before we start playing NESCAC teams. I think these games will really help us gel as a team so that we will be one hundred percent ready to play Williams in December.”

The Cardinals open this Saturday with an out-of-conference matchup up against Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI.  The Wildcats come into the matchup at 0-6-0. The Birds have their home opener next Tuesday against Sacred Heart University, a team they beat in a 1-0 thriller last season.

The squad begins its NESCAC campaign the following weekend with a Saturday-Sunday home doubleheader against Williams. Last year the Cards split a similar series with the Ephs, losing 3-1 on Saturday, but blowing out their Little Three rival on Sunday by a score of 5-0.

With an in-conference record of 3-12-1 last year, Wesleyan looks to improve in the NESCAC this season. With only two league games before winter break, the team will look to get off to a strong start in their out-of-conference schedule before returning to their NESCAC campaign with an away game at Hamilton on January 3. Last year saw the Red and Black split their back-to-back series with the Continentals, with a 2-0 win and a 2-1 loss in Clinton, NY.

The NESCAC is a highly competitive league, and this year the outlook is no less daunting. Brennan, who had a 21 point breakout season two years ago, echoed this to The Argus.

“As far as season goals, we are of course looking to be the best team in the NESCAC, like every team,” she said. “But to achieve this we understand that we need to take every game shift by shift and outwork our opponents. With the team we have this year, I think we have a very good chance of crushing it.”

With a hungry attitude and the skills to match, the Cardinals look to take the NESCAC and especially the Little Three by storm. They will look to amass as many points as possible in the beginning of the season, and will try to keep that momentum rolling the whole season so that they come in to their backloaded schedule with confidence. In their last six matchups of the regular season, the Birds will face Middlebury, Trinity, and Amherst, who were the top three teams in the NESCAC last year.

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