2017-18 SEASON OUTLOOK
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Last winter, the Wesleyan University women's ice hockey team broke a two-year hiatus from the NESCAC Tournament, and the Cardinals are looking to carry that positive momentum into the 2017-18 campaign.
Wesleyan will open up its season on Friday with a 7 p.m. matchup at Manhattanville in Rye, N.Y., and then the squad will take part in its home opener on Saturday (7:30 p.m.) against Post at Spurrier-Snyder Rink. The Cardinals will open up their conference schedule with back-to-back home games against Little Three-rival Williams on Dec. 1 and 2.
Overall, Wesleyan will host 11 games in Middletown, Conn., while competing in 16 conference tilts and a total of 24 regular-season contests. Wesleyan will look to nail down its sixth all-time berth into the NESCAC playoffs this winter, with the tournament scheduled to start on Feb. 24.
During the 2016-17 year, the unit fought its way to a 7-12-5 overall record and a 4-9-3 mark in the league, which was good enough for the eighth seed in the postseason tournament. The Cardinals traveled up to Middlebury, Vt., for the quarterfinal round, but the top-seeded Panthers prevailed, 4-1, on Feb. 25.
There were many positives during the season for Wesleyan, as they improved drastically from the 2015-16 year, adding three wins to its overall and conference records. The unit went up to Waterville, Maine, in early January and swept Colby with a pair of three-goal victories, and then outlasted No. 9-ranked Connecticut College, 2-1, on Jan. 15 in Middletown, Conn.
Head coach Jodi McKenna returns for her 10th year behind the bench for Wesleyan, as she added assistant coach Keira Goin to her coaching staff. McKenna powered the program to the fifth seed in the 2013-14 NESCAC Championships, and the team proceeded to give fourth-seeded Bowdoin everything it could handle during a 2-1 setback in Brunswick, Maine.
The 2017-18 Cardinals will be led by a strong captain in senior Alex Horton, as the forward finished with two goals and two assists last winter. The Great Neck, N.Y. native tallied the game-winning marker with just over 10 minutes remaining during a 4-3 win at Salve Regina on Nov. 22, 2016.
Senior forward Maddie Nash and junior defensewoman Sarah Goss assumed the roles of assistant captains going into this campaign. Goss picked up a huge assist on senior forward Cici Frattasio's game-tying goal in the second period during a 1-1 tie against Little Three-foe Amherst on Feb. 18, 2017, at Spurrier-Snyder Rink.
Frattasio, who is originally from Walpole, Mass., will be a focal point for Wesleyan from an offensive perspective, as she led the team in goals (seven), assists (seven) and points (14) last year.
Wesleyan will have some gaps to fill, as last season's talented senior class accounted for 39 points, highlighted by Abigail Rutt (four goals, five assists), Ellery Sarosi (five goals, three assists) and Jessica Brennan (four goals, three assists).
MEET THE TEAM
- Wesleyan's group of 18 returners features seniors Frattasio, Nash and Horton, juniors Kendall Carr, Bridget Sherman, Katherine Flaherty, Gina Mangiafridda, Grace Keogh, Jackie Kilar and Goss, and sophomores Allegra Grant, Miranda Nestor, Caroline Seibold, Colleen Castro, Allie Damren, Alicia Nickolenko, Alexis Banquer and Sam Smith. The rookie class is headlined by Maggie Curran, Sophia Marra, Sarah Takahashi, Laura Garvey, Sydnee Goyer and Bella Jaffe, while junior Hedi Droste has also joined the program.
- Seibold (two assists) came through with an enormous assist on Sam Curran's ('17) game-winning tally with just under 10 minutes left in the 2-1 triumph over the Camels. Kilar (one goal, four assists) helped orchestrate the equalizer in the game, which was a power-play tally by Rutt with 12:22 left in the third.
- During the squad's 2-1 win at Hamilton last January, Mangiafridda (three goals, four assists) assisted on Frattasio's power-play goal 2:42 into the game, and then Kilar netted the game winner at the 8:33 mark of the third, assisted by Nickolenko (three assists).
- The unit will also seek continued production from the likes of Banquer (three goals), Sherman (two goals, one assist), Damren (one goal, two assists), Carr (one goal, two assists) and Keogh (two assists).
- Grant and Smith return with some high-end experience during their rookie seasons in net, and the group also added Jaffe into the mix. Grant did a phenomenal job in between the pipes last winter, carrying the load with 18 appearances, as she boasted a 6-9-3 record, to go along with team highs in save percentage (.947), goals-against average (1.75) and shutouts (four). Smith appeared in six games, compiling a .918 save percentage and a 2.60 goals-against average, and she earned her first collegiate win at Salve Regina last November.
"I am really looking forward to the season, and we have a group of freshmen full of energy and potential to infuse enthusiasm into our group. As a senior, I would like to go out with a winning season. The ice hockey team has always been a hardworking unit, and we have the talent to be in the middle of the NESCAC pack; we just have to do the correct things on the ice to make it happen."