February 6, 2017

Young Stars Power Women’s Hockey to Bounceback Season

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By Zach Silver

Year in and year out, Cornell women’s hockey holds its incoming class to the highest of standards. Last year’s was no disappointment, as current sophomores Micah Hart, Diana Buckley and Lenka Serdar, among others, made immediate impacts in their first year in head coach Doug Derraugh’s ’91 system.

For this year’s freshman class to come close to that bar would be tough, but this year’s freshman have not only met it — they have smashed it.

“I think the work ethic and the enthusiasm that the freshman came into the year with has been a huge reason why we and themselves have had so much success,” said senior forward Hanna Bunton, who has seen the current underclass mature through the season.

Led by forward Kristin O’Neill, whom The Sun profiled in November, the underclass on the current team has become a dominant force when stepping on the ice. They are a major reason for the Red’s current No. 7 ranking and 16-6-3 overall record.

“The biggest key to the freshmen success is our work ethic and drive,” O’Neill said, echoing the sentiments of Bunton. “I think everyone in the freshman class continues to strive for excellence in everything that they do and continue to want to get better every time they are on the ice and in the gym. Learning from our coach and staff and upperclassmen has played a huge role in this compete level that we share as well.”

Of the team’s seven leading scorers, only two are not members of the underclass. O’Neill paces all scorers with 11 goals, while Hart and freshman Jaime Bourbonnais lead the defensive core in points, both as underclassmen.

Lily Xing / Sun Staff Photographer

Lily Xing / Sun Staff Photographer

In net, too, the underclass has stepped up. Marlène Boissonnault has split time in net with senior Paula Voorheis, with Boissonnault holding firm with the numbers her senior counterpart has been putting up.

“As a senior class we really wanted to take the freshman under our wings and show them the potential that they all had,” Bunton said. “When you have people that are genuinely excited to be at the rink and get better, then the results are going to follow like they already have.”

According to O’Neill, the transition to Cornell was an easy process. However, teammates like Bunton and other upperclassmen who have garnered experience over the years have assisted in making the transition as seamless as possible.

“There were definitely some obstacles,” O’Neill said. “The speed of the game is for sure a big factor and the strength of all our competitors, but I think we as a class have handled it just fine.”

While the underclass has certainly made quite the impact in its short time at Cornell, the group of women has its sights set far beyond this year.

Adrian Boteanu / Sun Staff Photographer

Adrian Boteanu / Sun Staff Photographer

“We all strive to one year win NCAA’s. We want to leave a successful and winning legacy once we finish here at Cornell,” O’Neill said. “I think we also want to be known for things like our work ethic and leadership. Leaving a legacy with these qualities will help Cornell be successful after we graduate as well.’

Bunton, who is on her way out at the end of this season, agreed that the Cornell women’s hockey program will be in good hands once she formally exits the University come commencement in May.

“I think that the biggest legacy you can leave as a senior is to show the underclassmen what it means to be a Cornell Big Red hockey player and how that takes strong work ethic, determination and enthusiasm,” she said. “I am more than confident that the program will continue to have success with the group of girls that will still be here next year and I am so proud of the seniors for helping to hopefully leave that legacy.”

Though only the future will tell what the true legacy of the current underclass unfolds into, if this year is any indication, the next wave of Cornell women’s hockey is onwards and upwards.

Read more articles in the Winter Sports Supplement here.

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