The team will miss the leadership of last year’s seniors; both were vocal and inspirational leaders. The good news for Amherst is that 18 players will return, in addition to an incoming class of five first-years. Led by tri-captain forward and two-time team MVP Renee Sisti ’06, tri-captain forward Meghan Dickoff ’07, tri-captain defender Amanda Mattei ’06 and last year’s points leader, defender Rachel Simon ’07, the women’s hockey team should improve on last year’s first-round exit from the NESCAC Tournament. “It was very disappointing to end last season losing to Hamilton [College] in the first round of playoffs for the second year in a row,” said Simon. “I am confident that that will not be happening again.”
Other key members of the team include the goaltending duo of Lindsay Grabowski ’07 and Stacey Johnston ’08. Grabowski had a solid season behind the net, stopping 87.6 percent of the shots she faced in 18 games. Johnston boasted an impressive 90.9 percent save percentage in eight games between the pipes.
Juniors that are looking to make an impact include defenders Emily Cronin and Kristen Forsberg and forwards Alena Harrison and Tes Siarnacki. Rounding out the sophomore class are forwards Christa Porcaro, Natanya Khazzam and Elizabeth Ditmore, while Meg Quinn, Katharine Kelly and Fairlee Frey will pitch in on defense.
Lastly, the list of first-years includes defender Tarasai Karega and forwards Anna MacLean, Julie Radziewicz, Blanca Myers and Lindsay Harrington. The upperclassmen are very excited about the incoming class and feel that they will have a significant impact this season. “We have great [first-years] that know how to score,” said Mattei. “[They] are natural scorers and will definitely be an offensive force � and [players] that we can depend on.”
Last year Amherst was only fifth in the NESCAC in total goals and looks to be more successful this year by changing its attacking style and becoming more of an offensive powerhouse. “We are being more offensive, going to the net harder, having our wings break out higher,” said Mattei. “We hope to improve our scoring statistics and get more points on the board.” Although she is one of the team’s leading defenders, Mattei realizes the importance of Amherst’s offense this year. The Jeffs will again look to last year’s leading goal scorers, Sisti and Simon, for the bulk of the scoring. Last season, Sisti had an impressive 12 goals and 10 assists and Simon compiled 12 goals and 17 assists. Other key scorers from last year include Siarnacki, Kaplan and Ditmore, with 21, 14 and 10 points, respectively.
The Jeffs have practiced for several weeks and are anxious for their season opener at Bowdoin College on Friday. This year’s schedule is tougher than last year’s, and the competition should be beneficial for Amherst when the NESCAC Tournament rolls around. “We’re playing even more challenging non-conference teams than we played last year,” said Dickoff. “We are looking to improve on our performance from last season, and there’s no doubt in my mind that we will.”
With a team returning most of its players and its top offensive producers, the Amherst women’s hockey team has many reasons to be optimistic. With more experience and a new offensive scheme, the Jeffs have the ability to avenge the last two seasons’ first round losses and become a team to be feared in the 2005-06 campaign.
Middlebury College, NESCAC and National Champion in 2004-05, is led by last year’s NESCAC Player of the Year, senior Emily Quizon. The Panthers remain the favorites in the NESCAC but are followed closely by Bowdoin, who fell to Middlebury in the finals. The entire 2004-05 NESCAC All-Conference First Team called either Bowdoin or Middlebury home, and only one of those players was a senior. During the last five years, Bowdoin and Middlebury were the only colleges to win the NESCAC Championship. Trinity, Colby, Hamilton and Williams Colleges will battle with Amherst for NESCAC seeding.