Women’s Hockey Not Doing Well, But Coach May Offer Some HopeBy Caitlin Murray
With a 7-1 loss to the Rochester Institute of Technology, the MIT Women’s Hockey team lowered their record to 2-11. All that kept the score from being much worse were the valiant efforts of the goalkeeper, Regina M. Sullivan ’05, and the defensive zeal of Mary P. Harding ’07 and Cara L. Toretta G.
The RIT Tigers, who the Engineers have never beaten, began the game aggressively, scoring two goals within a minute of one another in the first five minutes on the seemingly unprepared Engineers. Their technique was forceful rather than graceful. Each point was preceded by a prolonged scuffle in front of the net as the Tigers bludgeoned their way into the lead.
Sullivan recovered, however, and with the help of her defense, managed to hold the Tigers at two until the final minutes of the period, when Jackie Fraser forced another goal into the corner, the first of her game-high three goals.
In the second period, RIT posted another goal, but this time MIT responded. On a feed from Lauren M. Nowierski ’06, Amanda P. Hunter ’07 knocked in MIT’s lone goal of the game.
The final stanza was the same story: wasted opportunities and weak execution. Fraser knocked in another goal with six minutes left in the game. Four minutes later, she fed the puck in for another goal. The Tigers’ seventh goal followed less than thirty seconds later.
The Engineers displayed skillful skating and sound strategy, but players with actual stickhandling skills were scarce. From the stands, it was clear that the players were playing wisely but were simply unable to execute the plan. The loss certainly cannot be placed on the shoulders of the goaltender, as Sullivan recorded 63 saves. Given that many of the players began playing hockey in college, their abysmal record is not inconsistent with their experience. The players have potential, but have not yet played to it.
Julie Sasner, the Engineers’ head coach, is a story unto herself. After being selected as Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 1985 and helping lead Harvard to two Ivy League titles, Sasner joined the U.S. National Team, winning silver in the first International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships. At Cornell, where she had her first coaching job, she led the team to the Ivy League title and was named Coach of the Year.
She then went to the University of Wisconsin to build their women’s hockey program from the ground up. After just two seasons, the team achieved a 15-8-1 conference record. Sasner became an assistant coach to the women’s Olympic and National teams and served as president of the American Women’s Hockey Coaches Association. Now she is here at MIT, taking on a team that until this season had won one game out of 88. Considering her previous success, it is surprising that after three years at MIT, Sasner has yet to turn the program around, but hopefully this is just the beginning for the women’s hockey team..