Women’s hockey closes out regular season against Mankato

first_imgGeena Prough and UW look to extend their 18-game winning streak against a struggling MSU squad in the final series of the season.[/media-credit]The Wisconsin women’s hockey team may have already clinched the WCHA regular season title and Minnesota State-Mankato may sit second from the bottom in the conference standings, but there is still plenty to play for this weekend as the two teams match up for the second time this season.For the Badgers, continuing their winning ways (unbeaten in 18 straight games) is important, as they soon head into conference and national tournament play. No team wants to end its regular season on a sour note – such as losing to a team most of the conference has had its way with throughout the year.As the season winds down, according to several of their players, the Badgers are playing their best hockey thus far and the high level of play couldn’t have come at a better time.“I think we’re definitely in motion right now,” senior defenseman Geena Prough said. “You continue to improve each weekend during the season and I think we’ve got all the wheels going.”These two teams first clashed back in October, when Wisconsin took both games in the series sweep. In the Friday night game, the Badgers bested the Mavericks 3-2 on the shoulders of strong goaltending play by freshman net minder Alex Rigsby.In game two of the series, the Badgers didn’t have as much trouble, as they scored early and often en route to a 6-1 victory.Physicality and solid goaltending from both sides pervaded the entire series, which are themes the Badgers expect to see once again this weekend in Minnesota. The other nuance that might play a role in the outcome is the size of Mankato’s home rink.The ice sheet is much smaller than what the Badgers are used to at the Kohl Center, resembling rinks of conference rivals Ohio State and North Dakota, places where ice space is at a premium.Head coach Mark Johnson has prepared his team for the change in spacing all week in practice.“We’ve been doing a lot of battle drills in tight areas because we’re going into a smaller rink,” Prough said.There lies some uncertainty about whom the Badgers will send out on the ice, as well. In the series against North Dakota last weekend, Kelly Nash and Brittany Ammerman both went down with injuries. Then in practice on Wednesday, Brittany’s older sister, Brooke Ammerman also suffered an injury.The team has yet to reveal the seriousness of any of the injuries, but the three have missed practice throughout the week.“You never can anticipate those, you never know when they are going to happen, so you have to make some adjustments, put the next player in and keep going at it,” Johnson said.Wisconsin and Minnesota State both enter the series with seniors who will play the last regular season games of their careers. For the Badgers, captain Meghan Duggan, Geena Prough, Kelly Nash, Mallory Deluce and Anne Dronen will all don the Badger red and white for the last time in regular season action.For Duggan, aside from ending her time as a Badger, there is additional pressure during the series as the captain is one point shy of tying UW’s all-time career point record.“If she ends up doing it, then she’s done it. She deserves it and earned it and it will be a real feather in her cap,” Johnson said.As the playoffs loom right around the corner, the Badgers are brimming with confidence. According to junior winger Carolyne Prevost, the only thing that can stop Wisconsin is itself.All season long, Johnson has preached the importance of consistency in his team’s effort and the understanding that if the team gives that effort, they are a difficult team to stop. But Prevost and the rest of her team know they can’t let down against any opponent.“We don’t expect them to give us the victory,” Prevost said. “We’re going to have to work hard for it.”The Badgers believe they are not only ready for this weekend but for the weeks to come in the playoffs.“We’re really excited about this time of year,” Prevost said. “This is usually when Wisconsin hockey shines the most, towards the playoffs.”last_img read more

Syracuse earns 2nd ranked win of the season against No. 15 Florida State

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 24, 2019 at 4:29 pm Contact Arabdho: armajumd@syr.edu | @aromajumder Libi Mesh’s racket lay on court No. 5 between the baseline and service line. She’d dropped it there before going to the net to shake hands with her opponent, and as she returned to pick it up, her hands covered her mouth to control her emotions. Her loss had put Syracuse down 3-1 against Florida State, on the brink of a sixth-straight loss to a ranked opponent.About an hour later, Sofya Golubovskaya’s racket lay in a similar position to Mesh’s on court No. 2. She too had dropped it. But Golubovskaya did so to embrace her teammates that were all lined up on the neighboring court, watching as she clinched No. 32 Syracuse’s (11-6, 4-4 Atlantic Coast) come-from-behind, 4-3 win against No. 15 Florida State (14-4, 6-2) on Sunday at Drumlins Country Club.“My mindset was to stay composed on the tight points and to not rush,” Golubovskaya said. “I think I did a great job of following that.”SU dropped the doubles point, losing at all three spots, but Miranda Ramirez and Golubovskaya both said the Orange played well in doubles, which allowed them to easily refocus for singles.Ramirez and Gabriela Knutson started the day in a light, joking mood, which they’ve said helps them play better. But when they gave up a break midway through the set and eventually dropped the match at first doubles, Knutson began to wave her arms in frustration after FSU winners and biting her fingernails nervously. It culminated in her bouncing her racket off the ground after hitting a backhand too long on match point, and as she walked to the bench, her lips were tightly pursed.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt didn’t take Knutson long to start smiling again, though. The No. 40 ranked singles player was the first to finish, beating No. 26 Carla Touly, 6-4, 6-0, for her third-straight ranked win.“I think she was still in a good spot, she still played really well,” Ramirez said about Knutson. “She was very confident in her singles, so I trust her too.”Susie Teuscher | Digital Design EditorFSU responded with wins at fourth and sixth singles. Mesh only won three games in her match, and Sonya Treshcheva, playing her first singles match since Feb. 3, fell 6-4, 6-1. Dina Hegab’s straight set win at fifth singles was the start of the Orange’s comeback. Soon after, No. 90 Ramirez was on the verge of clinching a third point for SU. She took a second set tiebreak, 8-6, after winning the first set, 6-2. Ramirez said her opponent started playing much better in the second set, putting pressure on her, but having played in these situations before, the SU junior finished the match.On court No. 2, Golubovskaya dropped the first set, then battled back with a forehand winner to take the second frame, 6-4, prompting strength and conditioning coach William Hicks to cheer, “Great work Sofya, great work.”The Russian sophomore said the turning point of her match came at one-all in the third set with Oparenovic up 40-0. Golubovskaya came back to win that game, but as the set continued, it remained tight, and neither player gave up breaks or many break opportunities. By this time, Ramirez had finished her tiebreak, and she also walked over to court No. 3 to watch Golubovskaya play.Corey Henry | Staff PhotographerAssociate head coach Shelley George sat on Golubovskaya’s bench, discussing her game plan and telling her to stay calm, and head coach Younes Limam and volunteer assistant coach Len Lopoo stood with the other players, cheering, but not advising Golubovskaya. On the other side of the net, the Seminoles had a coach at Oparenovic’s bench, while their head coach, Jennifer Hyde, was also giving instructions to the Slovenian senior.Normally reserved, Limam began to encourage his players to start a “Let’s go Orange” chant as the players got ready to serve, which echoed through the enclosed Drumlins space. At one point, the chair umpire raised his arm to signal silence and had to turn behind him to the players to quiet them.“We were so stressed,” Ramirez said about watching from the sideline. “I watch her match just as if I’m playing a match too. We support her fully, back her fully, we have all the nerves that she has too.”At 4-4, Golubovskaya got into Oparenovic’s service game. At 0-15 and 0-30, Limam pumped his fist and leaned in Golubovskaya’s direction, and after a backhand winner to create triple break point, the sophomore reciprocated and turned to the SU players and coaches on the sideline. Oparenovic survived the three break points, though, and held at deuce off a Golubovskaya unforced error, causing the SU sophomore to throw her racket to the ground and kick it while yelling in Russian.The next Oparenovic service game, it was the FSU senior’s turn to show frustration. A double fault gave Golubovskaya triple break point again, and Oparenovic kicked a ball at the back curtain. This time, Golubovskaya secured the break, and Emmanuelle Salas was the one covering her mouth on the sideline before joining Touly in biting her fingernails. The next game, Golubovskaya had three match points but needed just one. A wide serve was returned out by Oparenovic, and SU had completed the comeback.“I was hearing only my teammates, that’s what I was focusing on,” Golubovskaya said. “I didn’t try to listen to what the other team was saying. … It was amazing, they helped me so much.”Limam’s hands-off approach, as seen in how he handled watching Golubovskaya’s clinching match, hasn’t led to much success against ranked opposition, unlike FSU’s more instruction-heavy method. The Seminoles have five ranked wins to the Orange’s one, but on Sunday, it was SU that came out on top. Not much changed, Ramirez said, just a few points here and there. Golubovskaya attributed it to not having anything to lose.“We just went there and we competed,” Golubovskaya said. “We did our best today, and on every single court, girl’s just left everything. I think that’s what changed.”It was also just the second time this season the Orange have come back after losing the doubles point, the first against ranked opposition. At the start of the day, it was FSU’s composure and lack of negative emotion compared to the SU’s racket throwing and arm waving that gave the Seminoles a lead.By the end of it, the roles had reversed, and while Golubovskaya and Oparenovic both dropped their rackets at the end of the match, only one kicked it on the ground. The other was celebrating. Commentslast_img read more