Christian Rodriguez, Assistant Sports Editor
The Utica College women’s hockey team defeated the Neumann University Knights 4-1 on Feb. 23 in a United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC) playoff contest. The win puts the Lady Pioneers in the conference semifinal this weekend.
The Pioneers held Neumann scoreless through two periods while putting on a scoring clinic led by sophomore Olivia Hirschy, who put in her team-best 12th goal of the season.
Junior Kristen Johnson found the back of the net early in the second period for the second goal of the game. The goal was assisted by freshman Lexi Stanisewski and senior Jennifer Arts.
Utica kept up its scoring pace for the remainder of the period. Junior Elizabeth Dohner put in a rebound to give the Pioneers a 3-0 lead. She led the way with two goals in the game.
Goalie Bria Reilly had 18 saves on the afternoon and let up one goal.
Head coach Dave Clausen said he was proud of the way his Pioneers executed their gameplan. His main concern was containing Neumann senior forward Bek Lucas, who he thinks is the best scorer in the country.
“We definitely didn’t give them much defensively,” Clausen said. “Bek Lucas wasn’t really a factor in the game until she found a way to get a goal in the third period.”
Clausen explained that he and the Pioneers really focused on power plays in preparation for this semifinal matchup. The Pioneers managed to score their first two goals on power play opportunities, which Clausen said “really blew the game open.”
Despite Neumann coming out on top 3-1 during the regular season, Clausen said he knew his team matched up well and kept the gameplan simple since this was their third time playing them.
“We just had to play our game without trying to do anything special,” Clausen said.
Senior goalie Amanda Lupo was happy to see the “team come together and win with pride.” She added that the main focus this year was to win the UCHC title and that this win “was the first step to doing that.”
Lupo feels the Pioneers were in control the entire game, and they never looked back.
“We didn’t let them get many chances,” Lupo said. “When they did, we kept the pressure high and did what we had to do.”
According to Lupo, the gameplan was to stay out of the penalty box and capitalize on the opportunities they were given.
“We knew their star players and that we had to protect our barn,” Lupo added.
The women’s hockey team will advance to face the Soaring Eagles of Elmira College.
Clausen believes that Elmira is a very “formidable offensive hockey team,” and that his team will have to be prepared defensively.
Both teams will meet Saturday, March 3, at 3 p.m. at the Adirondack Bank Center.