The Amherst women's hockey team is coming off its best season in school history, setting a school record for victories at 13-12 overall and 7-9 in NESCAC play. The Jeffs posted a pair of three-game win streaks, the first with victories at Colby, St. Michael's and New England Colleges, and the second with a trio of NESCAC wins over Trinity College, Wesleyan University and Connecticut College. First-year head coach Jim Plumer touted the 3-2 overtime win at New England College as possibly the biggest game of their season as they overcame a 2-1 third-period deficit to earn the win. The three late-season conference victories were instrumental in vaulting Amherst into a fourth-place tie with Hamilton College in the conference standings, its best finish ever. Earning their third consecutive postseason appearance, the fifth-seeded Jeffs fell in the NESCAC Championship Tournament Quarterfinals at fourth-seeded Hamilton.
The Jeffs lose five seniors to graduation, most notably, forward Ali White, who compiled 34 goals and 38 assists in her career, led the team in scoring as a sophomore and finished second on the team as a first-year, junior and senior. Also graduating are co-captains Amanda Muller and Tory Sereus and classmates Elissa Landes and Katie Potter. "The biggest thing we'll miss about this group is its leadership and focus," Plumer says. "Their drive and determination to improve, especially in their final year, was one of the main reasons for our success last season."
Co-captains Sarah Mason '05 and Amanda Mattei '06 lead a strong group of returnees. Plumer says that their "unbelievable team leadership" will be key in the direction of this year's squad. Sophomore Rachel Simon became the first player in program history to earn All-NESCAC honors after tallying 14 goals and eight assists last season. A Pre-season Third-Team All-U.S. College Hockey Online selection, Simon will serve as a "quarterback on the ice" this year, according to Plumer. Also returning are a pair of forwards, junior Renee Sisti and sophomore Alena Harrison, and sophomore defenders Meghan Dickhoff and Tes Siarnacki. Sisti posted a team-high 14 goals and 12 assists last season and earned NESCAC Player of the Week honors after scoring the tying and winning goals in the Jeffs' overtime win at New England College. Harrison, who opened the season with a hat trick at Trinity, finished with eight goals and 10 assists. Dickhoff, a tireless worker, piled up five goals and nine assists, while Siarnacki added a goal and six assists after missing the first seven games. Senior Annie Grabowski, juniors Leah Kaplan and Jess Matthews and sophomore Emily Cronin will contribute offensively, while junior Bethany Croy will bolster the defense. Sophomore goaltender Lindsay Grabowski returns after starting every game in her rookie campaign, logging nearly 1,500 minutes and collecting 592 saves.
The Jeffs welcome a strong first-year class with Elizabeth Ditmore, Megan Quinn, Stacey Johnston, Natanya Khazzam, Christa Porcaro, Samantha Miller, Katharine Kelly and Fairlee Frey joining an already talented squad. Ditmore, Porcaro and Khazzam join the offensive ranks, while Frey, Kelly, Miller and Quinn hope to contribute defensively, and Johnston will vie for time in goal.
Amherst adds a bevy of tough non-conference games to an already competitive NESCAC schedule, including home tilts against Utica College, the University of Southern Maine and St. Anselm College, and a matchup against two-time national champion Elmira College.
New Era of Amherst Women's Hockey Continues