The women's hockey team reached the post-season for the fifth straight year, finishing with a record of 10-15 (6-10 NESCAC), with five of those conference losses decided by a single goal, good enough to earn a number-five ranking in the NESCAC tournament. For the fifth straight season, however, Amherst failed to advance past the quarterfinals, losing to fourth-ranked Colby College 4-2 in the first round.
Amherst fared well against Little Three archrivals Williams College and Wesleyan University, defeating Wesleyan easily in consecutive days, 6-0 and 5-1, respectively, and playing two tough games against Williams, almost pulling off an upset on the road, falling 6-5 to the Ephs in a late-season thriller. In the middle of the season, the Jeffs went on a three-game winning streak, including two key conference victories over Trinity and Hamilton. Playing one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country, the Jeffs highlighted that portion of the season with their first ever win over a nationally-ranked opponent, nipping Wisconsin-River Falls 2-1 in a mid-January nail biter at Orr Rink. Despite finishing the season with a losing record, Amherst took advantage of the friendlier Orr Rink atmosphere, finishing the season at an even 7-7 at home.
The Jeffs lost two forwards and two defenders to graduation, who, during the 2005-2006 season, combined for six goals and 16 assists. Renee Sisti finished her four-year career setting up as many goals as she scored, tallying 34 goals and 34 assists, seven of those goals being game-winners. Forward Leah Kaplan was injured for much of 05-06 but totaled 23 goals and 13 assists in her four years, including at least one game-winner in each of her first three seasons, finishing with four altogether.
Defensive-minded co-captain Amanda Mattei will leave a hole on the Jeffs' blue line and in the leadership ranks. A two-time co-captain, Mattei finished her four-year career with one goal and 20 assists, while defender Bethany Croy also graduates, having chipped in a game-winning goal and four assists during her career. Kaplan, Mattei, and Croy were each named to the 2005-2006 NESCAC Winter All-Academic Team.
Bolstered by the return of eight of the top ten scorers from last year's squad, the Jeffs look to continue to improve their offensive output. Sophomore sensations Lindsey Harrington and Tarasai Karega were stellar in their freshmen campaigns, as Harrington led the team in scoring with 25 points (15 goals, 10 assists), good for 7th in the NESCAC. Karega led all of Division III in power play goals with nine on the season and contributed three short-handed goals as well on the way to a 21 point season (16 goals, 5 assists). Fellow sophomore Anna MacLean was the Jeffs' third-leading scorer, notching ten goals of her own, including a pair of game-winners.
The offense will also be led by senior tri-captains Alena Harrison and Kirsten Forsberg, who combined for four goals and seven assists last year and bring a tremendous work ethic to each and every shift. Fellow senior Meg Dickoff returns as well and has scored at least four goals in each of her first three seasons. Juniors Elizabeth Ditmore (10 points), Megan Quinn (eight points), and Natanya Khazzam (three points in an injury-shortened season), round out the ranks of returning forwards, all having made significant and timely contributions during their careers.
The Jeffs return three experienced blue-liners, including two seniors who have made big impacts in their careers at Amherst. Both Rachel Simon and tri-captain Tes Siarnacki are gifted offensive defensemen, as Simon has been among the team leaders in points for her entire career. Simon enters the season with 62 points in her first three years (28 goals and 35 assists), and will be looked on to continue her playmaking ways. Siarnacki also has contributed significantly to the offense, notching 37 points in her career (13 goals, 24 assists) and is one of the slicker stick-handlers in the league. Joining veterans Simon and Siarnacki on the blue line will be sophomore Julie Radziewicz, a steady presence on the back line who will undoubtedly provide leadership for a large group of freshmen defenders.
Iron woman Lindsay Grabowski returns for her senior year in goal after spending second semester abroad in 2005-06. During her freshman year, Grabowski played every minute in goal for the Jeffs and filled a similar role for much of her sophomore year.
The returning Jeffs excel in the classroom as well as on the ice. Grabowski, Dickoff, and Forsberg were all named to last season's NESCAC Winter All-Academic Team.
Head Coach Plumer notes that this year's team has a much different look due in part to the addition of seven very talented first-years. Among them, three have experience in USA Hockey's National Development Program in Lake Placid and five of the seven competed in the USA Hockey National Championships last spring. Joining the veterans on the attack will be first-years Kate Dennett (Highlands Ranch, CO) a former captain of the Colorado Selects; Michelle McGann,(New Berlin, WI), captain of the Wisconsin Wild, and Annie Morrow (Buffalo, NY) who captained both her Nichols School and Buffalo Bison squads. Helping the team on defense will be first-years Alyssa Chwick (Rye Brook, NY), a veteran of the Greenwich Academy and Connecticut Stars programs; Kirsten Dier (Appleton, WI) a teammate of McGann's from the Wisconsin Wild, and Molly Malloy (Darien, CT) a two-sport athlete who played her high school hockey at the Taft School. First-year Krystyn Elek (Summerville, SC) figures into the Jeffs plans in goal, having experience at both the Lawrenceville School and with the Princeton Tiger Lilies.
The Jeffs open their season with two challenging home conference games, first facing a Colby team that eliminated Amherst from last year's post-season, followed by a difficult match-up with perennial power Bowdoin College. The schedule does not let up, as the Jeffs next prepare for the first of two four-game conference road trips. Amherst was more successful at home than on the road last year, and must open their season in the same fashion to avoid being in a hole entering their first span of road games.
The Jeffs will travel to the Midwest in mid-January for a rematch with Wisconsin-River Falls, as well as their first-ever contest against MIAC opponent Bethel University.
Amherst's final home conference games will be against NESCAC rival Middlebury College and archrival Williams College, both of which will likely have significant post-season implications. With the mix of veteran players and talented first-years, Amherst has the potential for its most successful season ever.