Nick McAdam, Assistant Sports Editor
The Utica College women’s hockey team was eliminated from the UCHC tournament on Saturday, losing 3-2 to Manhattanville College.
In 18 years of women’s hockey at UC, the Pioneers have now managed to make the tournament for the entirety of the program’s duration. This season, Utica finished with a record of 16-9-1, which left the team in fifth place in the UCHC conference for the majority of the season.
Despite the elimination, the Pioneers ranked above the conference’s averages in terms of goals (91), assists (153), shots per game (37.1) and much more.
Individually, the Pioneers had a total of seven players reach or go above the 15-point mark. As for goaltending, junior Bria Reilly finished with a .921 save percentage while making 267 total saves on the season.
Assistant coach Jackie Solomito found the recent postseason loss disappointing but took away several positives from the game and the future of women’s hockey at UC.
“I think, as a whole, we are all disappointed with the outcome of the game against Manhattanville,” Solomito said. “I thought we were the better team and deserved to win, but unfortunately, we just didn’t get the bounces.”
Against Manhattanville, Utica amassed 33 shots and 36 faceoff wins, both of which beat out the totals of the team’s opponent.
Solomito was particularly impressed with the effort from the underclassmen in the game. The hope from the coach is that these players can follow suit in the next few years and become an experienced core group of talent.
“We are excited to see what that group will accomplish in the upcoming years,” Solomito said. “Our team is going to be young next year, but we have a great group coming in, and we have great leaders in the current freshman, sophomore and junior classes.”
Solomito also gives a lot of credit to the seniors of the hockey team. The veteran class produced four of the Pioneers’ top 10 scorers this season in terms of point attribution.
“I thought the seniors played hard and with a ton of passion,” Solomito said. “It is very hard to see such a talented group move on, but I have the utmost respect for those seven seniors and know they are all going to do great things.”
One of those seniors is defensive player Noelle Capriglione, who capped off her final year with four points in 25 games played. In her final regular season game against Wilkes University, Capriglione finished with five shots, one goal and an assist.
Capriglione was also disappointed with the recent playoff loss and gave her thoughts on the contest.
“Everyone tried their best,” she said. “The effort level was there, but positionally, we were slightly off.”
Even though Capriglione was disappointed, she still sees hope for the future and gave a lot of credit to her teammates throughout her years as a Pioneer.
“I care so much for everyone I played with and hope that they have as much fun as I had playing in my last year of college hockey,” Capriglione said.
Solomito noted that there’s a lot of work ahead but the desire for improvement and greatness in Utica women’s hockey will always stay the same.
“The women’s ice hockey culture at Utica has always been one that has expected greatness,” she said. “And I don’t see that going away any time soon.”