WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — The Williams College women's hockey team ended the 2015-2016 season on a high note, entering the NESCAC Championship as the fourth seed. Improving from their top six finish in 2014-2015 season, the Ephs won the bid to host the quarter-final round of the tournament. Losing a nail-biter in overtime to Trinity College 2-1, the Ephs are ready for the 2016-2017 season, hungrier than ever.
"This year we are focusing on being the best we can be today, and being even better tomorrow," Ephs head coach Meghan Gillis said. "We have a very strong senior class leading the team. They were first years on the team when we won the 2014 NESCAC championship, so they know what it takes to finish at the top."
Of the seniors, Hanna Beattie returns to lead the Ephs as a captain for the second year in row, along with senior assistant captains Emily Krueger and Caitlin Buckley. "Our captains have a tremendous work-ethic and always display a team-first attitude," commented Gillis, "they have done a great job setting a high standard for the team."
The Ephs finished the 2015-2016 regular season with a 12-12-1 record and will return eighteen players from last year's roster, including three of the team's top point contributors: Krueger (12), junior Alex Lovaas (10), and senior Chelsey Stevenson (8).
All three goaltenders saw playing time last year. Junior Christina Cleroux spent the most time between the pipes, finishing the season with the 4th highest save percentage in the NESCAC at 94%, while sophomore Julia Mini and three sport goaltender Margaret Draper'17 also gained valuable experience playing several games each. The Ephs will welcome freshman Marissa Anderson in net, who will be vying for game time at the start of the season as well.
Action in front of the goaltenders will include sophomores Eliza Quigley, and Claire Mancheski, who,returns from an extended injury last year. Seasoned juniors Candace Lu and Emily Eide, along with senior Hanna Beattie, will round up the existing defensive line up, while first years Mia Carroll and Caroline Dignard, are ready to round out that defensive core.
Seniors Chelsey Stevenson, Sara Lehman, Caitlin Buckley, and Emily Krueger will bring solid experience to the Ephs' offensive line, backed by juniors Alex Lovaas and Kearan Burke. Alongside Mancheski, sophomore Olivia Stokes will also be back playing after an injury last year, with other sophomores Abby Brustad, Annie Rush, and Anna Fucillo.
The team graduated five players: Natalie Bernstein, Eliza Noyes, Hadley DesMeules, Talia Simon, and the Ephs' top goal scorer Michaela Levine, who racked up 10 goals and 11 assists last season.
Though the graduating class will be missed, Coach Gillis said that she is "excited to have such a strong core group returning. On our roster, every single player contributes to building a positive strong team dynamic."
The Ephs have done an excellent job preparing for their season, spending quality time lifting and sprinting to make sure they are at their best for a physically demanding schedule. Head weight-lifting coach Rob Livingstone commented "The women came to campus well prepared for our preseason program. This in itself says a lot about the commitment and dedication they have towards the program and Coach Gillis' vision. They worked diligently and with precision throughout the fall and we are all excited to open up the season."
"We are fortunate to play in a competitive league" commented Gillis, "added to that grueling NESCAC schedule is our challenging non-conference schedule. Being able to play against some of the best teams in the country, like currently 3rd ranked Elmira and 10th ranked Oswego State on Thanksgiving weekend, will be a great tests for us and puts us in a position to compare with the best at a national level."
The team will begin the season next Saturday November 19th, on the road against Hamilton College. The home opener at Lansing Chapman features two games against Oswego State: November 26th at 7pm and November 27th at 3pm.