The women's ice hockey team made its mark in 2001-02, earning a postseason playoff berth for the first time in school history. The squad played through a challenging schedule en route to a 6-15-1 record, including a 4-11-1 mark in the NESCAC. The Jeffs qualified for the inaugural NESCAC Postseason Championship Tournament, where they, despite a gritty game, fell to national powerhouse Bowdoin College in the first round. After beginning the season with a weekend series of tough games against defending national champion Middlebury College and top-ranked Williams College, the squad rebounded to storm to a 2-2 record, thanks to a two-game sweep of Connecticut College on consecutive game-winning goals by junior forward Danielle Williams. From there, Amherst notched some key regional wins, including a Dec. 8 road victory at Wesleyan University. Junior netminder Heidi Alexander posted 39 saves on the day, contributing to her .894 save percentage for the season. The squad went on to take two wins against New England College and earned key victories over Trinity College and Holy Cross. The Jeffs also posted exhibition wins against Boston University and UMass Amherst. When the dust settled from the regular season, the Jeffs found themselves with the seventh seed in the inaugural NESCAC Tournament, with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament at stake. The tournament opener pitted the Jeffs against Bowdoin and, after a scoreless first period, the host Polar Bears opened up a 4-0 lead they would never relinquish, ending Amherst's season. "We were a young team and we have a lot of potential," says head coach Kay Cowperthwait. "I think the 2001-02 season was great preparation for the coming years. We gained a lot of great experience and made a strong showing."
The Jeffs lose only one player to graduation, seasoned defender Hilary Zwerdling '02. The NESCAC Winter All-Academic honoree and two-year co-captain led the Jeffs with seven assists as a senior and paced the team in defenseman scoring, notching nine points on the 2001-02 campaign. Cowperthwait credits Zwerdling, noting that her graduation is "a huge defensive loss." Cowperthwait continues, "We can't replace her contribution to the program as a player and a leader, but we do have full classes coming up behind her, and we should have a strong defense in the future."
Senior co-captains Alexander and Williams will set the pace for Amherst this year. During the 2001-02 run, Alexander was named the U.S. College Hockey Online Women's Defensive Player of the Week after recording 32 saves in Amherst's 2-1 win over Trinity, and notching 47 more in a 1-1 tie against Wesleyan. She marked a 3.69 goals-against average and an .894 save percentage on the year, improving on a 4.20 goals-against average and an .879 save percentage from her sophomore campaign. Shots on goal against Alexander will be difficult to come by. Junior Amanda Muller has the most collegiate experience on defense, and sophomores Lauren Caldwell , Sarah Mason, and Alicia Pichard will also be on patrol. Sophomore goalie K.C. Cosentino showed promise during a 40-minute outing during her rookie year, piling up twelve saves in a shutout over New England College. On the offensive end, Williams will once again spark the Amherst attack. Coming off a junior year that left her with seven goals, five assists and the fourth-place slot in the NESCAC in game-winning goals, along with a phenomenal sophomore year that gave her the team lead in goals and points, Williams should have little trouble putting the finishing touches on what has already been an impressive collegiate career. Additionally, junior forwards Alison White and Tory Serues return following breakout sophomore campaigns – White led the squad with 13 points, eight goals, five power-play points and three power-play goals in 2001-02, while Serues added five goals and six assists of her own. Cowperthwait will look to versatile junior Elissa Landes to bolster the Jeff line on either offense or defense. Landes notched two goals and five assists during the 2001-02 run. Meanwhile, sophomore forward Annie Grabowski returns after a four-goal, three-assist rookie season, matching fellow sophomore forward Ellie Roe's first-year output. Juniors Bess Kargman and Katie Potter are also expected to put in another solid season on offense. Potter dished out six assists last season and Kargman added a goal and two assists.
Incoming first-year forward Renee Sisti brings a formidable presence to the front line, and hard-working forward Leah Kaplan will look to make a name for herself as a rookie. Cowperthwait also expects first-year forward Jess Matthews to use her solid physical presence on offense. First-years Bethany Croy and Amanda Mattei will add much need depth on defense.
Women's Hockey Eyes Return to Postseason