Amherst Women's Hockey Up and Skating|
November 22, 2000
AMHERST, MA - With a pair of opening-weekend losses at the University of Vermont and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), it has hardly been an auspicious start for the 2000-01 women's ice hockey team. Then again, given the youth of this year's squad - with seven first-years and two sophomores on a 16-member squad - how the Jeffs open their season will not be nearly as much of an indicator as how they finish it, since they boast one of the most talented first-year classes in the 19-team ECAC Division III league.
The early question for the Jeffs to answer will be where the goals will come from, given that only one of the top 11 scorers from last season - sophomore sensation Danielle Williams (Needham, MA), who scored 18 goals and assisted on 10, returns for the entirety of the 2000-01 season. Senior Co-captain Gretchen Bowe (Hampstead, NH), the Jeffs' leading scorer one year ago with 22 goals and 18 assists - and on pace to set an all-time school scoring record - will miss the first month of the season due to a torn ACL sustained during the field hockey season. Juniors Robin Ackerman (Princeton, NJ) and Sarah O'Keefe (West Hartford, CT), who combined for
seven goals and 16 assists last year, will only be available for the first month, before they both go abroad in the spring.
That will force Head Coach Kay Cowperthwait to rely heavily on a large and talented - but inexperienced - first-year class for offense. A quartet of rookie forwards - Bess Kargman (Brookline, MA), Katie Potter (Ridgewood,
NJ), Tory Serues (Cambridge, MA) and Alison White (Brookline, MA) - give the Jeffs depth up front, with White playing a hand in both of Amherst's opening weekend goals, assisting Williams and adding a score of her own in
the Jeffs' 5-2 loss to RPI.
Along with the four first-years, junior veterans Michele Murphy (Newton, MA) and Jaime Ratner (Liberty, NY) add three years of experience to the offensive unit, as the Jeffs look to improve on last year's 8-13-1 finish.
Defensively, the Jeffs will also look to newcomers, with only sophomore goalie Heidi Alexander (Edina, MN) and junior Co-captain Hilary Zwerdling (Shrewsbury, MA) returning inside the red line. Alexander was brilliant for much of her rookie season, stopping over 91 percent of the 814 shots she faced. Zwerdling, who missed the second half of the 1999-2000 season with a broken foot, returns to anchor a defensive unit that also includes a trio
of first-years, newcomers Pam Burkardt (Pittsburgh, PA), Elissa Landes (Potomac, MD) and Amanda Muller (Princeton, NJ).
The Jeffs, who opened their campaign with an 8-0 loss at Vermont before the 5-2 defeat at RPI, face three more away games before winter break, including conference tilts at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Hamilton College next weekend. The Jeffs open their 2001 schedule at home against Union College on Saturday, January 6, beginning a stretch in which they will play 10 of 13 games in the friendly confines of Orr Rink, highlighted by their Super Bowl Sunday showdown against arch-rival Williams College.
It would be a bit of a stretch to call the Jeffs, by far one of the youngest teams in the 19-team league, a playoff contender. With such a deep and talented incoming class, however, along with four returning starters in Alexander, Bowe, Williams and Zwerdling, the Jeffs have a good chance to post their first .500 season ever, and may well end up figuring in the eight-team post-season tournament.