The Wesleyan women’s ice hockey team has experienced a season of dramatic ups and downs. The Cardinals kicked off their season with a strong win streak. The Red and Black became nationally ranked for the first time in the program’s history over winter break, before facing a series of difficult games.
Though the Cards began the 2022-23 season with a 0–2 loss to Conn. College on Friday, Nov. 18, they fought back the next day to start an impressive streak of wins. The Red and Black beat the Camels 1–0 thanks to Chiara Christie ’23’s goal just five minutes into the game, with Rei Halloran ’23 making 19 saves and shutting out the Camels.
The Cardinals then returned home for a series of non-conference games, which began by defeating Salve Regina 4–0 in their season home opener, and handling Manhattanville College just days later with a 2–0 win. The Cards recorded a 2-1 victory against Castleton College, followed by a 1–1 tie against No. 13 nationally ranked Endicott College.
Caroline Jenkins ’23 highlighted how the series of wins showed the team’s growth over the past few seasons and said the streak was rewarding for the team, especially the senior class.
“It was heartbreaking losses, and it felt like we had suffered through those games and those tough seasons, and it was starting to finally pay off,” Jenkins said. “It’s been four years of hard work for my class especially, that it’s like you’re finally seeing the results, and it’s finally being recognized, the hard work that you’re putting in, which is very refreshing.”
Effie Tournas ’25 likewise attributed the team’s success to their hard work at the start of the season.
“I think it’s just a testament of our hard work and how much the program is growing,” Effie Tournas said. “I think in the coming years, we’re just gonna keep getting better and better, so I’m excited for the program’s future.”
The Red and Black continued their streak of wins with four more victories at home, keeping up their hot record for the season with a 4–2 victory over Post University on Tuesday, Dec. 6. The Cards set up a 3–0 lead in the third period before sealing the win with another goal in the final seconds of the game by Effie Tournas. The team extended their streak to seven games with a 4–1 win over the University of New England on Saturday, Dec. 10.
The Cards kicked off the new year with a 2–1 overtime win over Conn. College on Monday, Jan. 2. Christina Tournas ’25 scored the game-winning goal in their final non-conference game before the team headed into NESCAC play against Williams on Friday, Jan. 6. It was yet another home victory for the Red and Black in the NESCAC, with the Cards holding a 1–0 lead over the Ephs before scoring three goals in the final 17 minutes of the game to advance to 8–1–1 (2–1–0 NESCAC) for the season.
Jenkins said the team has been supported by newer classes bringing in more talent to the rink, but the Cardinals have also remained focused on working hard as a team.
“This year, more than ever, we have the greatest amount of talent,” Jenkins said. “And honestly, we had to adjust to playing with that talent…. Now we have that talent and [know] how to use it, but also [recognized] that hard work can’t be let up.”
However, following the success in the winter, the team has struggled to maintain their strong footing. After their victory over Williams, the team fell 5—1 to the Ephs the next day (Saturday, Jan. 7) as Williams took a 2–0 lead into the third period before netting three more goals to win the game. It was the first time the Cardinals allowed more than two goals by their opponents all season.
In the next two-game series, the Cards traveled to Brunswick, Maine to play their first game as a nationally ranked team at No. 15 and took on Bowdoin. It was a historic night for Wesleyan as the Tournas twins set up the game-winning shot for Sam DeLeo ’25, allowing the Cardinals to take their first win over the Polar Bears on the road since 1998, snapping a 22-away game losing streak against Bowdoin.
“It definitely wasn’t the focus there just to score the game-winning goal,” DeLeo said. “It never really goes through my head, but I think just being able to get that goal and get us started was definitely good because, I mean, we won the game, so that’s all that matters.”
Despite the triumph of their win against Bowdoin, the Red and Black fell the next day in their first shutout since the start of the season in a 0–2 loss to the Polar Bears. Following a non-conference loss to Cortland a few days later, the Cards faced off in two games against No. 4 nationally ranked Amherst. The Mammoths managed to win 0–6 on Friday, Jan. 20. The next day, both teams went scoreless in the first period before scoring in the second and third, with Wesleyan ultimately losing their 4th straight game in a 1–3 loss.
It was another series of difficult defeats for the Cardinals the next week, as they took on No. 7 nationally ranked Hamilton, losing 1–7 to the Continentals on Friday, Jan. 27 and 0–3 on Saturday, Jan. 28. In their most recent games against defending national champions and No. 8 nationally ranked Middlebury on Friday, Feb. 3 and Saturday, Feb. 4, the Cards led 3–2 in the third period before the Panthers tied the score in the first game and netted an overtime winner to take a 4–3 victory. In the following game, Halloran made a season-high 42 saves in net, but the team ultimately couldn’t stop Middlebury from earning the 5–0 shutout win.
The team is now focusing on finishing strong and ending their current streak of eight losses heading into their next two games against Colby on Friday, Feb. 10 and Saturday, Feb. 11.
Jenna Stevens ’24 emphasized that the team is focusing on bringing back the positive energy from their winning streak earlier in the season.
“Right now we’re in a bit of a little slump, but I think the team vibe hasn’t really changed,” Stevens said. “We’re just trying to get back into the positive momentum that we had at the beginning of the season, ’cause we know we can do it.”
The team now sits at 9–10–1 (3–9–0 NESCAC) heading into their next two games, both against Colby, on Friday, Feb. 10 and Saturday, Feb. 11. The Red and Black looks to rebound in their last conference games before the NESCAC Championships begin in late February.
“I think we’re just going into the latter half of the season with some confidence and hopefully revenge,” Effie Tournas said. “I think we just want to finish strong and be proud of how we finish the season and hopefully get into playoffs and just win a few more games before the end.”
As Jenkins goes into the final few games of her hockey career, she is looking forward to savoring her last moments on the rink with her teammates and finishing strong.
“I’ve had some amazing seasons, I’ve had some very tough seasons, but for me, especially as a senior, I’m going into coaching hockey next year, [and] I am obviously focusing on the winning and playing the games and the outcomes, but I’m also really much focusing in on the process and practices and being with the team and the film sessions and just enjoying the team, ’cause I think that good teams are made up of good teammates and that’s what causes success,” Jenkins said.
Jem Shin can be reached at email@example.com.
Kat Struhar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.