October 17, 2018

Boasting Returning Stars, Highly Touted Freshmen, Princeton Women’s Hockey Primed for Big Winter

STICKING WITH IT: Princeton University women’s hockey player Stephanie Sucharda heads up the ice in a game last winter. Senior defenseman and co-captain Sucharda figures to lead the Tigers from the blue line again this season. Princeton opens its 2018-19 campaign with games at No. 2 Wisconsin (6-0-0) in October 19 and 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After getting off to a 4-9-3 start last winter, the Princeton University women’s hockey team caught fire down the stretch, going 10-5-1 in its last 16 games.

As Princeton gets ready to open its 2018-19 season with games at Wisconsin in October 19 and 21, the Tigers are poised to build on their strong finish, having lost only two seniors to graduation.

“We have the same team plus six incoming freshmen who we expect to contribute right off the bat,” said Princeton head coach Cara Morey, who guided the Tigers to to the ECAC Hockey quarterfinals along with the 14-14-4 mark last winter in her debut campaign at the helm of the program. “We have a lot more depth.”

The combination of senior co-captain Karlie Lund (7 goals and 15 assists in 2017-18) and junior Carly Bullock (24 goals, 8 assists) provides a lot of offensive punch for the Tigers.

“Karlie Lund is the ultimate professional, she has been doing everything right,” said Morey, whose other returning forwards include sophomore Annie MacDonald (3 goals, 11 assists), senior Keiko DeClerck (8 goals, 4 assists), sophomore Amanda Harris (6 goals, 5 assists), sophomore Sharon Frankel (5 goals, 5 assist), sophomore Sarah Verbeek (4 goals, 6 assists), sophomore Shannon Griffin (3 goals, 5 assists), and junior MacKenzie Ebel (2 goals, 4 assists).

“She leads by example; she puts in extra conditioning and extra skill sessions. She looks like she really wants to have a great senior year. Bullock looks like she is even better than last year. Her skating has gotten a lot better and her intensity is there. She looks like she is really looking forward to getting going.”

Morey is looking forward to seeing what freshmen Sarah Fillier and Maggie Connor will do in their debut campaigns as they both have played for Canadian national teams.

“We haven’t had any games yet but Sarah and Maggie have both looked good in our preseason,” said Morey, noting that Fillier recently made the Canadian senior national squad. “We have 12 strong forwards and those two are going to contribute right off the bat.”

The Tigers are depending on a big contribution from senior defenseman and co-captain Stephanie Sucharda (3 goals, 18 assists).

“We expect Sucharda to quarterback the whole defense; she is a captain and she is going to step up and lead that defensive corps,” said Morey, who is also welcoming back experienced defensemen junior Claire Thompson (9 goals, 7 assists), junior Sylvie Wallin (2 goals, 7 assists) and senior Kimiko Marinacci (9 assists).

Freshman defensemen Mariah Keopple and Chloe Harvey will shore up things long the blue line.

“They are very different, Mariah uses positioning and a long, good stick and has a bomb of a slap shot from the point,” said Morey. “Chloe is smaller, a really mobile defenseman and a pestering kind of defenseman. Both of them look very good to me so far.”

Junior Steph Neatby (1.91 goals against average, .929 save percentage in 2017-18) sophomore Rachel McQuigge (2.00 GAA, .846 save pct), and freshman Cassie Reale form a good goaltending group.

“We expect all three goalies to get playing time this year. with Steph’s past play, she is going to be an impactful player for us,” said Morey.

With Princeton traveling to second-ranked Wisconsin (6-0-0) to start the season, Morey is expecting a challenging opening weekend.

“It is going to be real test, that is for sure,” said Morey. “They have been together since the summer and we have only had a few weeks of practice and we had one exhibition game. Our girls are hungry, eager, and excited, and hopefully we can have them ready to play their first two games against such an amazing program as Wisconsin.”

No matter what happens in Wisconsin, though, the Princeton program is headed in the right direction.

“We have all of the pieces in place,” asserted Morey. “We have players who can score goals, we have defensive-minded forwards who are responsible. We have great defensemen and we have excellent goaltending. The sky is the limit for them. It is going to come down to whether they can put it all together or not. If they do, we are going to be a really difficult team to play against.”