The women’s ice hockey team, who posted a 19-6-2 (13-2-1 NESCAC) record last year, will look to a core of returning players and some fresh new faces as they work their way through a demanding schedule, including facing the top five teams in the current national Div. III poll.
The team has made an appearance in 10 NESCAC championship series’ in the past 10 years, securing three first-place trophies. They’ve appeared in four of the last five NCAA Div. III tournaments and earned two national championship titles in program history. The team finished last season with an uncharacteristically tough break, losing to Middlebury in the NESCAC finals and not continuing into NCAA Championship play.
“I think the lessons we learned from last season are invaluable,” senior tri-captain Stephanie Clegg commented. “We wear a target on our backs, so beating us makes any team’s season worthwhile. This requires us to bring our highest intensity and focus to each game.”
Those goals, as head coach Jim Plumer outlined, “are actually pretty simple. We want to improve as the season goes along and play consistently at a very high level. We know what it takes to compete for a NESCAC and national championship and we will need all the pieces of our game to play well.”
Some of those pieces are the group of returning players from last season, which includes seniors Clegg, Josie Fisher, Sinead Murphy, Ellen Swiontkowski, tri-captain Emily Vitale and tri-captain Geneva Lloyd ’13. The team will look to Lloyd, who posted 12 goals and 20 assists last season, Clegg, who posted 13 and 14, respectively, and Swiontkowski, who posted 10 and 16, to be strong contributors again. Vitale had 16 assists last year as well.
“Losing eight seniors was definitely an adjustment, but the first-years have been great so far and we have a strong group of six seniors who bring a lot of leadership and experience to the team,” Lloyd noted.
Amherst welcomes six first-year players. “We are deep at forward and it’s hard to single anyone out because they all can become impact players, but in particular look for first-year Tori Salmon to make an immediate impression,” Plumer said.
The Jeffs will look to Murphy and Stuart for their goalkeeping needs. Plumer expects the two to split time in net, and noted that they “both have had excellent preseasons.” Plumer is encouraged by the whole team’s drive during the preseason: “The team came into the season exceptionally well-focused and I think this is a great foundation for our season and a real testament to the kids we have in our program.”
“They really enjoy practice and like to be challenged, and as a result, this has been one of the best preseasons in my nine years at Amherst. We’re really excited about the tempo and execution at practice,” he said. The Jeffs will open their season with an away game at Hamilton this Friday.