November 16, 2010

Women’s Hockey Team Not Living in the Past

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Managing expectations is always a difficult task and is especially important in the world of sports. Hype about the perceived greatness of a specific team is something any team who is expected to be elite goes through; some teams respond to that favorably and rise to the challenge, while others fold under the pressure and cannot live up to expectations.

Compared to last season, the women’s hockey team is on the other end of the spectrum expectation-wise this season. After years of finishing towards the bottom of the standings in the ECAC, Cornell exploded onto the scene last year, winning the Ivy League, ECAC and earning the program’s first-ever NCAA bid. Cornell took its run all the way to the championship game at the Frozen Four, before eventually falling to Minnesota-Duluth in triple overtime.

“Obviously last year we kind of a made a mark on the [NCAA tournament],” said junior forward Chelsea Karpenko, who is currently tied for third on the team with nine points on the season. “We kind of proved to everybody else that we’re for real, so of course this year the expectations for us are pretty big. But we really just try to focus on what we’re doing and not worry about what everybody else is saying.”

While there are some teams that like to fly under the radar and take the role of underdog, other squads like to have the pressure of being expected to be great. For the returners on the Red, they have clearly experienced both, but are not concerned with which situation is more preferable, but rather focusing on the immediate task at hand.

“Honestly I think with us we’re more or less focused on each game, one at a time,” said junior forward Catherine White. “We know we have a target on our backs but we try not to let that affect our play. In this league if you’re off one night any team can beat you, so you need to stay focused.”

While the Red ultimately fell one goal short of its final objective last March in Minnesota, the experience that the team gained was invaluable and something that the upperclassmen will carry with them and pass down to the freshmen throughout this season.

“The experience [of the Frozen Four] was definitely great for us,” White said. “It was our first-ever NCAA berth and we have a lot to learn from that and a lot to teach our freshmen. It was good for the experience and it also taught us that we need that same intensity and hunger that we had last year if we want to make it there again.”

Original Author: Ware Cady