The team struggled in the beginning of the season, winning only three games in the fall semester. While the second semester demonstrated the team’s progress, they were nevertheless unable to qualify for the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC) playoffs.
The Mustangs finished 2018-19 with a record of 9-14-2. While this hasn’t been their strongest season, freshman Tea Ferrara said that the number of games they’ve lost doesn’t accurately reflect the quality of their play. “We’re a growing team,” Ferrara said, “And it shows with how close each game gets.”
Their most recent play was against Elmira College, ranked second in the nation and first in the women’s ice hockey league. The Mustangs played two games consecutively, losing 3-0 on Feb. 15 and losing 5-1 the next day, the team’s Senior Day.
“The seniors were outstanding,” said first-year goaltender Ana Holzbach. She described the game as being one of the best they played, not only against Elmira but in the entirety of the season.
The Mustangs needed at least a tie with Elmira in order to qualify for playoffs. The team concluded their season with a total of 25 games played from October to February.
While the Mustangs did not qualify to participate in the UCHC playoffs, head coach Tracy Johnson said the team is working on developing a young team. “We’re a young team, and we’re very excited for the future of our program,” said Johnson. She mentioned in particular, freshman forward Nikki Kendrick, who set a rookie-season record with 26 points, and was in the top five in assists. In an interview with Sam Murray of gomustangsports, Johnson noted Kendricks’ great attitude and hard work throughout the season.
Johnson also praised Holzbach for stepping up in the past few games as she’s been getting more playing time on the ice. Seniors Kellen Wittman and Cierra Siemasko were also spotlighted by Johnson for playing key roles throughout the season.
Caitie Darosa was named MAC Player of the Week for the second time this season, for the week of Feb. 18. Darosa had 69 saves in the loss to Elmira, a program record. The senior finished with a .932 save percentage in her final start of her career, according to gomustangsports.com.
During winter break, the Mustangs traveled to Germany to play other European teams. The European-style of play was unique to Stevenson, but nevertheless many of the students called it an incredible learning experience.
Their home base, according to Johnson, was in Füssen, a Bavarian town in Germany just north of the Austrian border. “It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trip,” said Johnson about their nine-day trip, “Student athletes often have to sacrifice a lot to play, and it requires a strict discipline in time management. This was a good opportunity to give our student athletes an experience they won’t forget, playing the sport they love.”