Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 9
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
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BITTER END: Princeton University women’s ice hockey defenseman Katherine Dineen races up the ice in recent action. Last weekend, senior star Dineen saw her career end on a bitter note as the third-place Princeton got swept 2-0 by No. 6 Rensselaer in a best-of-three ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series. The Tigers fell 2-1 in double overtime on Friday before dropping a 1-0 decision on Saturday. Dineen, a multiple All-Ivy League and All-ECACH performer, will go down as one of the greatest defensemen in the program’s history.

Unable to Find Rhythm Against Rensselaer, PU Women’s Hockey Falls in ECACH Quarters

Bill Alden

Sasha Sherry stands 6’0 and is a tower of power for the Princeton University women’s hockey team.

But early last Saturday evening, Sherry was left slumped on the ice at Baker Rink on all fours, exhausted and distraught after the Tigers fell 1-0 to Rensselaer to get swept in a best-of-three ECAC Hockey quarterfinal series.

Sophomore defenseman Sherry had to be helped from the ice in order to join her teammates who had skated into their dressing room with their heads down.

Despite fighting with all their might, third-place Princeton just couldn’t find a rhythm in the series as it slugged things out with the sixth-place Engineers.

On Friday, the Tigers lost 2-1 in double overtime, surrendering a goal 16 minutes into the second extra session.

A day later, Princeton found itself on its heels as the Engineers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period.

With the season on the line, the Tigers threw everything they had at Rensselaer over the next period, outshooting the Engineers 13-1 in the second period and 12-4 in the final frame.

Despite generating a slew of scoring opportunities and a total of seven power plays on the evening, the Tigers ultimately couldn’t solve Rensselaer goalie Sonja van der Bliek.

A grim-faced Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal acknowledged that Rensselaer’s similarities to his squad were a cause for concern.

“We knew coming into it that RPI was a really well-coached team and they provided a tough matchup for us,” said Kampersal, whose team ended the winter with a record of 18-11-2.

“They skate really well and they forecheck like crazy; that is the way we play. We are both hard workers. More than anything else, it was two teams going at it pretty good.”

The Tigers didn’t produce their best work in the overtime loss Friday or the early stages on Saturday.

“I thought we played average yesterday but they forced us into being average,” said Kampersal, whose team outshot the Engineers 32-25 in the game Friday with freshman forward Heather Landry scoring Princeton’s lone goal.

“So coming into today, I thought our first period should have been better; it wasn’t, which is a little bit of a bummer.

Kampersal was bummed out with his team’s lack of focus on detail in practice and during the series. “We didn’t have a great week of practice; we weren’t really settled,” said Kampersal, whose team outshot the Engineers 32-12 in the finale.

“We performed unlike the Princeton way; we didn’t do the little things well. We didn’t chip well; we didn’t pass well; we turned it over too much at the blue lines, all the little things. In hockey, if you make those mistakes, you usually pay.”

The team’s early exit was particularly hard to swallow, considering that the Tigers had gone 11-1-1 in their last 13 regular season games to rise to No. 9 in the national rankings coming into the series.

“We have come a long way from the beginning of the year to the stretch run that we had,” said Kampersal, whose team got rolling after a 4-3 win at No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth in mid-December.

“We had a great run. I can’t lie; the season feels like the movie “Rocky,” battling so hard but falling short.”

It was hard for Kampersal to see his corps of seniors end their careers on such a heartbreaking note.

“It is one of the more successful classes we have had here; they poured their heart and soul into it,” said Kampersal, whose seniors included Kristen Young, Katherine Dineen, Christine Foster, Annie Greenwood, Monica Brennan, and Megan Murray.

“Young will go down as probably the best goalie to go through here while Dineen one of the better defensemen and Foster is one of the better all around players. Annie is one of the better scorers, Monica is one of the better heart and soul kids, and Megan is just an inspirational leader. It’s a good group and it is a tough group to lose.”

Kampersal is hoping that his returning players will benefit from the tough lessons they absorbed last weekend.

“They just need to perform a little better under pressure; they need to deal with me a little bit better,” said Kampersal who will welcome back such veteran stars as Sherry, Stephanie Denino, Maddie Endicott, and Laura Martindale together with precocious freshmen like Danielle DiCesare, Paula Romanchuk, Julie Johnson, and Landry.

“I can set the tone, positively or negatively. Regardless, they have to control what they can control.”

But last Saturday, it was hard for the Princeton players to control their emotions as their hard work was left unrewarded.

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