The women’s hockey team is playing a more difficult schedule this year and, as a result, is not winning as often. However, the tougher competition has allowed the team to improve greatly in just its third year.
Last weekend, UR split two road games to improve to 3-7. The Yellowjackets lost to the University of Massachusetts 6-1 on Friday and then defeated Smith College 9-0 on Saturday.
“We definitely are playing a lot better this year than we have before,” senior goaltender Awista Ayub said. “I don’t think the scores and our record reflect how much we’ve progressed. We’re playing really competitive teams.”
Junior Kate Rae led the offense against Smith with three goals. Senior Kate Donhauser and junior Nicole Ketterer each added two goals for the Yellowjackets. Donhauser also scored UR’s lone goal against UMass.
Ayub earned the shutout, but the defense made things easy on her as she did not have to stop a single shot.
“They totally shut down the other team,” Ayub said.
The team is still fun
The higher level of competition has not made it impossible for people who have never played hockey before to give it a try, however. In fact, Rae had never played before she joined this year, and she had not scored any goals before the game against Smith.
“It was pretty exciting,” Rae said. “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and I got some good passes.”
She joined the team because she had some friends on the team who told her that it was a lot of fun.
“They said I should give it a try and I did and I absolutely love it,” Rae said. “It’s really a fun group of girls. It’s not really a traditional girl’s sport and we don’t really take ourselves too seriously, but we have a lot of fun doing it.”
“It’s nice that it’s not so competitive that a newcomer can’t join the team and be doing really well by the end of the season.”
UR’s season ends this weekend, and Rae’s game against Smith is proof that a lot of experience is not a requirement for playing, and succeeding at, women’s hockey.
“We’re fairly well-matched with a lot of the teams we play,” Rae said.
“Some of the players on the team played in high school, but a lot of them just started playing when they joined the team,” Rae said.
One of those players is freshman co-captain Rachel Gabriele, who also captained her high school team for four years.
“When I came to the first practice, more than half of the players couldn’t skate,” Gabriele said. “Coach (Dave Maksymiu) is bringing us along much faster than I thought he could.”
“I think if we keep improving at this rate, we’ll be fantastic by the time I graduate.”
UR will try to build on last weekend’s success and end the season on a high note this weekend.
The Yellowjackets will face William Smith College on Friday at 8:30 p.m. at ESL skating rink and then finishes the season against Mount Holyoke College on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Genesee Valley Park Ice Skating arena.
Jacobs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.