By Julianne Bartosz
The final puck has dropped for the Saint Mary’s University women’s hockey team, as their 4-2 loss on Feb. 26 against St. Olaf will keep them out of the playoffs.
Throughout the season, it was hard to tell who would earn their berth for the post-season conference tournament. The standings remained close, coming down to the final series of the season. For the second year in a row, SMU’s playoff chances relied on their final conference competition against St. Olaf.
Last year, St. Olaf barely squeezed into the playoff season, only to knock SMU out. This year, the Cardinals were ready for action in hopes of a successful season.
The Cardinals, coached by Terry Mannor, returned with their core players from last season. Adding to that, the 26-player roster consisted of 16 new players, all freshmen. The young talent of the team stepped up for the challenges that the Cardinals faced. In fact, freshman Haley Coolsaet led the Cardinals in goals this season. Not far behind her were returning players junior Nicole Olson and sophomore Erin Stenseth.
To balance the Cardinals’ offense, SMU’s goalies were key to the success that SMU came away with this season. Sophomore Kaye Collier returned to the ice alongside freshman Sarah Gustafson. Collier’s big saves throughout the season ranked her among the MIAC’s top goalies in regards to average goals against, save percentage and win percentage. Also, Gustafson led the MIAC as the No. 1 goalie with save percentage for a good portion of the season.
Despite their loss, the Cardinals will continue to build off of every season and keep Cardinal pride alive at SMU.