Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 42
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
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TOP PRODUCER: Princeton University women’s hockey star Danielle DiCesare heads up the ice in action last season. Junior forward DiCesare led the Tigers in scoring last year with 27 points on 11 goals and 16 assists and figures to be a pivotal player for Princeton this winter. The Tigers open their 2010-11 season by playing at Northeastern on October 22 and at Providence on October 23.

Coming Off Season Plagued by Inconsistency, PU Women’s Hockey Emphasizing Toughness

Bill Alden

After enduring a 2009-10 season characterized by uneven play and some dispiriting losses, Princeton University women’s ice hockey head coach Jeff Kampersal is espousing a basic formula to get more consistency out of his team in the upcoming campaign.

“We need to be the hammer, not the nail,” said Kampersal, whose team went 13-14-4 overall last winter and was swept 2-0 by Harvard in the quarterfinals of the ECAC Hockey playoffs. “The key is focus. We need to work on being mentally ready to play every night, worrying about ourselves and not the other team.”

To help increase his players’ focus, Kampersal has racheted up the intensity in preseason training.

“I think from the get-go of practice, the team has been working hard; they are physically tough,” said Kampersal, whose team opens its 2010-11 campaign this weekend when plays at Northeastern on October 22 and at Providence on October 23.

“We are doing more one-on-one stuff and small area games in practice. We want them to work on getting better each and every day. We want them to start things fast, whether it is the first period in a game on Friday or a 4:30 practice on Thursday. Whatever they are doing, they need to do it hard.”

Princeton will be looking for its quartet of junior forwards, co-captain Paula Romanchuk, Danielle DiCesare, Heather Landry, and Julie Johnson to provide some hard work in the offensive zone.

Last season, DiCesare led the team in scoring with 27 points on 11 goals and 16 assists while Romanchuk chipped in 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) with Landry scoring 18 (11 goals, seven assists) and Johnson adding 11 (four goals, seven assists).

“Danielle and Paula led the way this weekend,” said Kampersal, referring to the team’s scrimmages against McGill, Brown, and Yale this past Friday and Saturday.

“The whole group is very good. We are expecting a lot from Landry and JJ as well. We will lean on these four kids a lot, especially in the beginning when we don’t have the game experience and we are going against teams that have played seven or eight games.”

The Tigers are also expecting some firepower from sophomores Kelly Cooke (five goals and four assists last season) and Corey Stearns (seven goals, 12 assists) together with a trio of freshmen, Sally Butler, Denna Laing, and Olivia Mucha.

“We have depth at forward position that we haven’t had in the past,” said Kampersal, who will also give shifts at forward to sophomore Alex Kinney, junior Ann-Marie Elvin and senior Caroline Park.

“Cooke and Stearns should give us more this year. Stearns is going to be good on the power play for us. The freshmen are all feisty players; we are looking for them to contribute.”

If Princeton is going to rise up the ECACH standings from its fifth-place spot last year, it will need major contributions from senior defensemen Sasha Sherry (three goals, nine assists) and co-captain Laura Martindale (five goals, five assists).

“We are a little inexperienced back there; we need to iron out some communication issues,” said Kampersal. “Martindale and Sherry are clear cut leaders. They are really good kids and excellent players from the get-go. They both made ECACH All-Rookie team and have had three really good seasons for us.”

The Princeton defense should be bolstered by the addition of promising freshmen, Rose Alleva and former Lawrenceville School standout Gabie Figueroa.

“The freshmen are both really good,” asserted Kampersal, who will also be using junior Charissa Stadnyk and sophomore Krystyna Bellasario on defense.

“They both skate really well; they just need to get adjusted to the speed of college hockey. Last year in high school, they could hold on to the puck longer and make that extra move.”

Kampersal is looking for his pair of goalies, junior Rachel Weber and sophomore Cassie Seguin, to make moves in the right direction.

Last year, both showed flashes of promise with Weber posting a 2.05 goals against average and a save percentage of .912 in 20 games while Seguin gave up 2.25 goals a game and had a save percentage of .903 in her 16 appearances.

“We are looking for competitiveness and consistency in the net,” said Kampersal. “We need them to step up, they will have opportunities to take control.”

The Tigers will need to step up collectively this weekend as they face tough tests on their New England swing against Northeastern (3-1-1) and Providence (5-1).

“Both Northeastern and Providence are well coached,” said Kampersal. “Northeastern is a fast team with a really good goalie. Providence has a lot of good all-around players. We have got to execute and be at our best.”

In Kampersal’s view, the opening weekend will serve as a preview of what lies ahead this winter.

“Every game is going to be a battle; there is good parity in the college game,” said Kampersal, who is entering his 15th season at the helm of the Princeton program and has a record of 217-170-40.

“There are a few teams top heavy with returning Olympians but in the middle of the pack, it is going to be a dogfight.”

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