The Sacred Heart University women’s ice hockey team is back in action for their first full winter season since 2019. They had two non-conference road games against Clarkson University on Sept. 24 and 25, with Sacred Heart losing 6-1 and 5-1 in games one and two, respectively.
“The scores didn’t reflect what really happened on the ice,” Head Coach Thomas O’Malley said. “We actually looked like we were almost in midseason form.”
Despite losing 6-1 in the opening game, Sacred Heart managed to score first on a short-handed goal from junior forward Sophie Lupone. Not only was this the first goal of the season for the team, but it was also the first goal Sacred Heart had ever scored against Clarkson in program history.
“I didn’t know at all, actually, that that was the first goal we had ever scored against them, until coach sent me the article,” Lupone said. “But I was hyped when I scored! I went crazy.”
In the second game, sophomore defenseman Erin Fleming scored her first collegiate goal late in the third period to break up the Clarkson shutout.
“It was our only goal, so that made it more exciting. Just the way it happened I was kind of shocked,” Fleming said. “I didn’t know it went in until I skated by and saw the puck in the net. They had us by a few points, but it still felt special.”
In between the pipes, senior goalie Frankie Sanchez made 48 saves in the opening game and followed that up with another 38 saves in their second bout with the Golden Knights.
“I did alright,” Sanchez said. “I’ve had better games, but hopefully we can keep working and get better.”
The entire team expressed their appreciation and gratitude toward being able to play a full season with the whole squad, in light of last season’s fragmented campaign.
“It was really fun to all be together for the first time in a while, and I think we’re going to have a really good team environment this year,” Lupone said. “I’m excited to see how we’re going to be in the middle of the season after the new year and how much chemistry we’re going to have, because we have so much already.”
Sacred Heart was picked to finish second in their conference, according to the New England Women’s Hockey Alliance (NEWHA) preseason poll, right behind Long Island University (LIU). Sacred Heart, who received one first place vote, won the NEWHA regular season title back in 2020.
“We match up very well with [LIU], and they match up very well with us. We are both very good programs,” O’Malley said. “They’re going to be good, we’re going to be good, and it’s the team that executes that day that is going to win those games.”
Sacred Heart will play LIU four times this season, with back-to-back games on Oct. 15 and 16, and then again on Feb. 4 and 5.
After two road games to start their season, Sacred Heart had their home opener and conference opener on Saturday, Oct. 2 against St. Michael’s College at the Sports Center of Connecticut in Shelton. The team will head back out on the road for two more conference games against Post University in Waterbury, Conn. on Oct. 8, and LIU on Oct. 15 in Brooklyn.
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.