BY RYAN DEPAUW | The Statesman
The Women’s Club Hockey team is heading to nationals.
A standout defensive group enabled UMD to clinch the No. 4 position in the final rankings of the season. The Bulldogs overtook Iowa State University and earned its first American College Hockey Association Division II National Tournament berth since 2013.
The Bulldogs are scheduled to face Buffalo University, Delaware University and West Division rival North Dakota State in the round-robin portion of the tournament.
“Our goalie is amazing,” junior forward and captain Laney Obregon said. “We have really strong defense that always hustles back and makes sure we get stuff cleared out.”
Finding out that the team ranked just high enough to make Nationals was an exciting feeling for the Bulldogs.
“Butterflies would be a bit of an understatement,” senior goalie Colleen Jacoby said. “We’ve played games with just 10 or 12 girls, so it was nice to know all the hard work and dedication came through and payed off.”
After a hot start to the season, the Bulldogs carried that momentum into the second half.
“We really came together in the beginning,” Jacoby said. “We were pretty scattered, but we just worked really hard all season.”
With only two seniors, many of the players on the team are freshmen and sophomores.
“Freshman Rachel Pawlak is leading our team in points,” Obregon said. “She’s killing it. She definitely rallies our team and keeps us in games.”
Most teams might struggle with having a young team and a small roster, but the Bulldogs embraced the challenge.
“We have girls of all ages, but everyone does their part, and when everyone does their part, we’re pretty unstoppable,” Jacoby said.
With Nationals just around the corner, the Bulldogs will look to brush up on their special teams units and stay in shape.
“We’re really going to get deep in practice,” Obregon said. “We’ll work on power-plays and penalty kills. Just the fundamentals.”
Nationals will be held in in Kalamazoo, Michigan, March 9-13.