Women's ice hockey concludes season with loss in ECAC semifinals, earns post-season honors
The Princeton women’s ice hockey team suffered a 4-0 defeat in the ECAC semifinals last weekend when they faced Clarkson. The Tigers had beaten Quinnipiac in a three-game series last weekend, playing the longest game in Princeton hockey (both men’s and women’s) history. However, the Tigers will not be heading to the ECAC final.
Despite a hard-fought game from Princeton, they could not contain Clarkson sophomore Loren Gabel, who scored two goals and had two assists. The forward skated through the Tigers' forward line and found her teammate, who managed to put it in past freshman goalkeeper Steph Neatby early into the second period.
Princeton was outshot by Clarkson 40-26, with Neatby making 36 saves. The Tigers stood strong for the remainder of the second period, despite suffering two penalties, but less than a minute into the third period, Gabel doubled Clarkson’s lead.
But Princeton was not without opportunities. Seniors Molly Contini and Cassidy Tucker, along with fellow senior defender Kelsey Koelzer, tested the Clarkson goalkeeper, forcing her to make two saves. However, the Tigers could not steal a goal back from Clarkson, which made it hard for them to get back into the game.
The ECAC Player of the Year, senior Cayley Mercer, added another to Clarkson’s tally. Mercer leads the ECAC in points (57) and goals (26). Gabel then sealed the deal, ensuring Clarkson would be heading to the ECAC final with a 4-0 win over Princeton.
Although the Tigers will be disappointed with the result over the weekend, they have seen some incredible individual success since then. Freshmen forward Carly Bullock was named the ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Year and Neatby was named the ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Year and was selected to be on the first-team All-ECAC. Both were named to the ECAC All-Rookie team. Sophomore forward Karlie Lund and Koelzer were both named to the second-team All-ECAC and were both finalists for best player in their respective positions.
Helping lead her team to an ECAC semifinal, Neatby has come in as a freshman this year and broken records along the way. Ranked second in the nation in both save percentage (0.953) and goals against average (1.38), Neatby also broke the 20-plus year record for saves in a game, which had been held by Susan Gouchoe since November 1985. Gouchoe made 58 saves in one game, but known by the team as ‘Stneatby’, Neatby bettered that by two saves this year with 60 saves in the triple overtime game against Quinnipiac.
For some the hockey does not stop at Princeton. Koelzer has just been signed by the New York Riveters of the National Women's Hockey League for the remainder of the season. Although Koelzer has finished her career in collegiate hockey, the All-American Princeton women’s ice hockey captain has exciting times to look forward to.