Harvard is another team that will have a slightly different look this season due to it being an Olympic year. Coach Katey Stone is on a sabbatical while she coaches the United States team. In her absence, Maura Crowell will serve as interim head coach.
“I’ve been working with coach Stone for three years, and we see things pretty similarly,” Crowell said. “We’re going to continue doing a lot of things we do really well. Certainly, I’ll put my own stamp on it with some tweaks, too.”
Stone isn’t Harvard’s only donation to the U.S. Olympic cause.
“Three players are with Katey and the national team — Lyndsey Fry, Michelle Picard, and Josephine Pucci,” Crowell said. “So we’ll be without them this year, but with those holes to fill, other people will certainly step up.”
Wisconsin faced a similar situation four years ago. Fresh off winning the 2009 NCAA title, coach Mark Johnson and players Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight spent the next season preparing and competing at the Vancouver Olympics. Without them, the Badgers were inconsistent all year and failed to reach the conference semifinals for the only time in their history. The trio returned and Wisconsin was back atop the NCAA world in 2011.
Crowell isn’t concerned that anything similar will unfold at Harvard.
“These guys are all extremely competitive, driven athletes, who certainly don’t see this as a different year in terms of what their goals are and what they’re striving to do,” she said. “For me, we’re going to continue to do what we do and do it really well and keep as much consistency in past years as possible. I’ve been here for three years. We hired Laura Bellamy, who just graduated from our program. She was our senior captain goaltender, so she’s on staff; she’s a familiar face. Hayley Moore is a familiar face in her second year here. So in terms of staff, it’s a lot of familiarity, and the team is super driven. That comes from within. We don’t see it as an issue.”
Even if focus isn’t a problem, the loss of three international-quality players for the season will certainly have some impact. Those losses, plus the graduation of key seniors like leading scorer Jillian Dempsey, should be offset to some extent by the addition of some talent.
“We have a really good freshman class coming in and a lot of good returners,” Crowell said.
Marissa Gedman was the blue line’s leading scorer as a sophomore before sitting out an injury redshirt season.
“She just had her one-year anniversary since her [Achilles tendon] injury and is 100 percent, doing great, and she is our captain this year, so she’s back in a big way,” Crowell said.
Perhaps the best way to ward off inconsistency for any team is strong goaltending.
“We return Emerance Maschmeyer, who was fantastic in her freshman year, so we’re very confident in her ability,” Crowell said. “We also brought in Brianna Laing, a freshman out of Nobles and Assabet, who has U-18 experience as well. So we feel very good about that tandem.”