Nick McAdam, Staff Writer
Two sports began their hunt for glory last week in the Empire 8 playoffs.
After a busy weekend in Utica College sports, two teams, the men’s and women’s hockey teams remain, while the men’s basketball team’s run ended after streaking into the playoffs on a six-game win streak.
Utica narrowly defeated Stevens Institute of Technology 63-62 to advance to the E8 finals against Nazareth College. However, Nazareth ended the hopes of the Pioneers with another close game that ended in a 66-64 loss to the end the Pioneers’ dramatic season.
Junior Hawa Sanogo shared her thoughts on the end of the season for the basketball squad.
“It was an inspiring run for the team,” she said. “They had to do a lot to get into the tournament, while barely edging out a game to get into the finals. The fact that they got that far into the season shows skill and luck from the Pioneers.”
Sophomore Georgiannah Lander had similar statements to those of Sanogo.
“Close games like the one’s the Pioneers went through towards the end of the season really make you think about what would have happened if they went the other way around,” Lander said.
After defeating Neumann College 5-2 in the UCHC Tournament, the men’s hockey team must get by Elmira College to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Junior Hamza Grey has been to a variety of men’s hockey games this season.
“It’s been a fun and entertaining season all around for the Pioneers,” Grey said. “I can’t believe it all comes down to one game to determine if the team can get in.”
Grey also notes that an appearance can have some benefits for the campus itself.
“At the end of the day, the success of the hockey team could really publicize this college and help people all around the country realize what we have to offer,” Grey said. “The NCAA Tournament is huge, and Utica being in it will pay off for everybody.”
The Pioneers host Elmira March 3 at the Adirondack Bank Center. Utica is boasting a three-game win streak heading into that contest.
Similar to the men’s hockey squad, the women Pioneers downed Neumann College 4-1 at home. Elmira is the next opponent to go on the schedule to determine if the women’s team can reach the UCHC Finals.
The NCAA Tournament is the big goal for the team, and Utica freshman Lindsey Rasmussen is excited for the squad and their chances.
“I really want to go to all the games to support the team,” Rasmussen said. “The farther they go, the more it will benefit and publicize the team and this school. A win would be a really cool feeling for the college.”