Senior Leaders Step Forward
The Dartmouth women's hockey team is off to a raging start, but preparing to face more intense competition beginning this weekend, the senior leaders must step to the forefront. Seniors have more on their shoulders than the difficult task of repeating or improving upon last year's impressive numbers and success. Just as critical to the team's future is the seniors' ability to carry the weight left behind by last year's 2001 class, in part by leading the freshmen to become contributors.
Co-captain Kim McCullough '02 recognizes the importance of her leadership position and the need to involve the freshman talent right away:
"Because of our depth last year, we didn't have to rely on the performance of freshmen in order to succeed. If they came along quickly and could contribute, it was great but not completely necessary. This year we have six freshmen that are making an immediate impact and will have to take on a good deal of responsibility. I think the role of the upperclassmen is to help the underclassmen realize how integral they are to the team's success."
This optimism regarding the class of '05 has already been justified. In the first game of the season, freshman forward Meagan Walton racked up five points on two goals and three assists while Krista Dornfried '05 added an assist. Alana BreMillier '05 tallied her first goal in the next game and Alex Zagaria '05 contributed an assist. The true test for the freshmen will be how they stand up against veteran talent on more competitive teams.
While the top three scorers from last year are all returning, the next six highest scorers cannot be found on the 2001-2002 roster. These players made up the core of the Big Green squad, accounting for 73 percent of scoring not credited to the top three. Kristin King, a senior co-captain and last year's second leading scorer (16 g, 18 a), knows as well as anyone that the recently graduated players were a huge part of last year's success.
"There are definitely a lot of big shoes to fill by having the '01s leave. They were a very talented class and are sorely missed," said King.
In addition to depleted scoring from '01s, the loss of Meaghan Cahill '01 will leave Dartmouth with less flexibility at the goalie position this year. Cahill and Amy Ferguson '03 split time almost evenly between the pipes last season. Ferguson, however, gave up nearly a goal more per game than did Cahill, but their win-loss totals were essentially the same. Kate Cochrane '02, who saw limited playing time last year, will back up Ferguson.
Last year's assist leader and star defenseman was not an '01, but is absent. Correne Bredin, who led the team with 20 assists, is a defenseman who was on pace to return this year as a senior. Instead, she is taking a year off to play with the Canadian National Team. If Bredin makes the last round of cuts, she will represent Canada at the Olympics in February.
Melissa Dolan '02 is off to a solid start as one of two senior defensemen. She understands the need for dynamic veteran leadership.
"I think senior leadership is going to play a big role in the success of the team this year. We have strong leaders in our captains -- both set positive examples through their work ethic and through their dedication to this sport and to the team. As seniors, I think that we will have to play a large role in getting the team to come together as a unit. Our team prides itself as being just that -- a team, not a bunch of individuals.