Women's Hockey Set for First Season of Formal NESCAC Play

AMHERST, MA - The Amherst College women's ice hockey team will look to power its way through the nine-team New England Small College Athletic Conference this season, capitalizing on the experience of a veteran unit and the talent of an impressive first-year class. Returning seven sophomores - each of whom played in every game last season and account for four of the team's top five returning scorers - and losing only one player, Gretchen Bowe '01, to graduation, the Jeffs are poised to make a run into the postseason. In addition, the switch from ECAC-based competition to formal NESCAC play will culminate with a first-ever conference postseason tournament and the first NCAA-sponsored Division III National Championship for women's ice hockey, giving the Jeffs plenty of room to make the 2001-2002 season a definitive one in the program's history.

Bowe, who will return to the Amherst bench as an assistant coach via the College's prestigious Hitchcock Fellowship, ended a stellar four-year playing career as the Jeffs' second all-time leading scorer with 76 goals, 84 assists and 160 points. Despite injury, Bowe capped off her senior season with eight goals and 11 assists in 18 games, second only to junior forward Danielle Williams (Needham, MA). Williams led the Amherst attack with 23 goals and 15 assists during her sophomore season, ranking her fifth in the NESCAC and sixth in the ECAC, as well as giving her ECAC Weekly Honor Roll acclaim six times. Sophomore Alison White (Brookline, MA) had an outstanding rookie season, finishing 11th in the NESCAC and 16th in the ECAC with 10 goals and 17 assists. For her efforts, White was named the ECAC Rookie of the Week once, and was named to the ECAC Weekly Honor Roll six times.

With Bowe graduated, head coach Kay Cowperthwait will turn to Williams and White to lead the offense. Sophomore forwards Tory Serues (Cambridge, MA) and Katie Potter (Ridgewood, NJ), and sophomore defender Elissa Landes (Potomac, MD) will also be called upon after collectively contributing 10 goals and 18 assists as first-years. Junior forward Bess Kargman (Brookline, MA) added three goals and four assists during her sophomore campaign.

The Jeffs also return a stingy defense, led by junior goaltender Heidi Alexander (Edina, MN) and senior co-captain defender Hillary Zwerdling (Shrewsbury, MA). Zwerdling, who enters her second season as team captain along with first-year captain Williams, scored four goals as a junior but made defense her trademark, earning NESCAC All-Academic Team honors last winter. Alexander will pose the last line of defense for the Jeffs after playing between the pipes in every outing last year, recording a 4.20 goals-against-average in a 7-16-1 Amherst campaign. Alexander was given ECAC Weekly Honor Roll accolades eight times during her 2000-2001 sophomore run as the only Amherst goaltender. Alexander and Zwerdling will lead a cohort of young defensive talent, and sophomores Pam Burkardt (Pittsburgh, PA) and Amanda Muller (Princeton, NJ) will also patrol the defensive zone.

To add to the Amherst initiative, rookie goaltender K.C. Cosentino (Greenwich, CT) will help out Alexander in the net, while first-year defenders Sarah Mason (Minneapolis, MN), Alicia Pichard (Potomac, MD) and Lauren Caldwell (Cranbury, NJ) will join the defensive ranks. Finally, first-year forwards Annie Grabowski (Princeton, NJ) and Ellie Roe (Edina, MN) will round out the Jeff offense.

Amherst will kick off the 2001-2002 season with tough away dates at two-time national champion Middlebury College and Williams College, before returning home to host the Connecticut College Camels for a two-game tilt on November 24th and 25th. Their schedule will match them up against some of the best competition in New England, featuring games against Bowdoin College, Boston University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

A trio of NECSAC teams hold the top three spots in this week's USCHO.com Division III Women's Ice Hockey Poll. Middlebury is ranked first followed by second-ranked Williams and third-ranked Bowdoin.