Utica Coach Dave Clausen has stated that one of his team’s goals coming into the 2004-05 season was to defeat at least one nationally-ranked team. The Pioneers have already thrown scares into both No. 1 Elmira and No.3 Plattsburgh in dropping one-goal decisions to each. This weekend, Utica gets two more opportunities against No. 2 Middlebury and No. 10 Williams. Coach Neil Sinclair and his Williams Ephs have managed to discover life after Molly Wasserman ’04 (2004 national player of the year) while breaking in two freshmen goaltenders (Denise McCulloch, Kristin Sundet) at the same time. Williams finished its NESCAC schedule with just two fewer points than a year ago and it has a chance this weekend to match last year’s regular-season win total with a sweep.
These two programs have never met in their history but they exhibit many similar traits, including solid records, excellent scoring defense, adequate but not elite offense, and respectable special teams. Both squads also rely on youth. Five of Utica’s top six scorers are freshmen or sophomores, while four of Sinclair’s six leading point-getters are in their first or second year. The one striking difference between the two teams is in the penalty department. Williams is one of the country’s least penalized teams, averaging just over four minor infractions per game. Utica, on the other hand, visits the sin bin more than any other team in Division III, taking more than eight minor penalties per game. With neither team boasting a true offensive superstar–Utica sophomore Deanna Wiegand is the only player on either roster averaging better than a point per game–the game may hinge on how much that penalty disparity shows up on Sunday.
Utica (12-7-1, 6-4-0 ECAC West)
Top Scorers: Deanna Wiegand, So., F (10-11-21), Courtney Bills, So., F (10-9-19), Stephanie Price, So., F (7-12-19)
Top Goaltender: Sarah Detwiler, Sr. (9-6-1, 2.17, .921)
Scoring Offense: 3.55 (12th)
Scoring Defense: 2.15 (16th)
Penalty Minutes: 16.6 (1st)
Power Play: 16 of 84, 19.0% (9th)
Penalty Kill: 129 of 142, 90.8% (10th)
No. 10 Williams (12-8-2, 10-4-2 NESCAC)
Top Scorers: Ashley Wood, So., F (10-11-21), Gigi Stender, Sr., (9-8-17), Caralyn Quan, Fr., F (8-7-15)
Top Goaltenders: Kristin Sundet, Fr. (8-4-1, 1.51, 0.916), Denise McCulloch, Fr. (4-4-1, 2.25, 0.921)
Scoring Offense: 3.23 (18th)
Scoring Defense: 1.86 (10th)
Penalty Minutes: 8.8 (34th)
Power Play: 14 of 84, 16.7% (15th)
Penalty Kill: 85 of 95, 89.5% (14th)
This is the schools’ first meeting.