Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 9
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
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CATFIGHT: Princeton University freshman women’s hockey player and former Lawrenceville School standout Gabie Figueroa beats a Quinnipiac player to the puck last weekend in the best-of-3 ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series between the teams. Princeton ended up getting swept by the Bobcats in two games, losing 2-1 on Friday and 2-0 the next day. The losses left the Tigers with a final record of 16-14-1.

PU Women’s Hockey Swept in Playoffs; But Heartened by Progress Over Season

Bill Alden

Having won 13 of its last 15 regular season games before last weekend’s best-of-3 ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series against visiting Quinnipiac, the Princeton University women’s hockey team was looking to maintain its recent magic.

After battling fifth-seeded Quinnipiac to a scoreless tie in the first period of Friday’s playoff opener, No. 4 Princeton seized the momentum as senior star Sasha Sherry steered a Danielle DiCesare feed into the back of the net to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead one minute into the second frame.

Unfortunately, that tally turned out to the major highlight for the Tigers for the weekend. The Bobcats scored a goal in the second period to tie the game and then got the game winner with five seconds left in regulation.

The next day, Princeton fell behind 1-0 in the second period and battled gamely, hitting two posts and generating some point-blank scoring opportunities. But in the end, the Tigers could never find the back of the net again as they lost 2-0 to finish the season at 16-14-1.

In reflecting on Saturday’s finale, Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal said his players weren’t shellshocked by Friday’s heartbreaking setback.

“Friday was a shock, no question, but the players were in a good mood at pre-game meal on Saturday,” said Kampersal.

“I thought we prepared well. I thought they competed all game long and that is all you can ask. Quinnipiac executed a little better than us and they got those one or two goals they needed. We had more possession and spent more time in the offensive zone on Saturday.”

Kampersal was proud of how his team got into a zone collectively after starting the winter at 3-10-1.

“The season wasn’t ideal but we were getting better and we stuck with it,” said Kampersal. “We played hard and settled on a lineup. Rachel Weber had a phenomenal season in a goal; that was a big reason for our success. We got stronger as the season went on.”

The Tigers showed strong character as they were often fighting an uphill battle in terms of numbers.

“Our kids play with heart and soul,” asserted Kampersal. “We had 15 skaters most of the season while most of the other teams had 18. Our kids were playing six minutes longer or something like that.”

One nagging problem for the Tigers was spending too many minutes in the penalty box.

“This year, we took too many penalties,” said Kampersal, noting that Quinnipiac took just one penalty last weekend in the playoff series. “In the past, we have been a good, disciplined team. This year, it wasn’t crazy but it hurt us.”

It is going to hurt Princeton to say goodbye to its trio of seniors Sasha Sherry, Laura Martindale, and Caroline Park.

“They are awesome; all three kids were professional and mature,” said Kampersal.

“It goes by too fast; I remember when I recruited them and it seems like it was yesterday when they were freshmen. I am proud of what they accomplished here and what they are going to accomplish in the future.”

In Kampersal’s view, his core of returners can accomplish some big things next winter.

“I love our kids but we all need to get better,” said Kampersal, who will be returning 10 of his top 11 scorers next season together with star goalie Weber.

“We need to identify weaknesses and improve in those areas. We will be an older team; we have a lot of kids who have been through years of battle. It shouldn’t take as long to jell.”

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