SCHENECTADY — Coming off two emotional victories against RIT over the weekend, the Union College women’s hockey team doesn’t have the luxury of savoring the pair of one-goal victories.
The Dutchwomen have a lot on their mind. Final exams for the first trimester begin later this week.
While the players are preparing for that, they also have to get ready for a game Tuesday night against their Capital Region rival.
The Dutchwomen host RPI at 6 p.m. in an ECAC Hockey game at Messa Rink. It will be the final game for Union (1-2-1 ECACH, 3.5 points; 6-5-1 overall) until Dec. 2, when it faces Quinnipiac.
Union had Sunday off and practiced Monday. RPI (0-3-1, 1.5 points; 2-9-1 overall) hasn’t played since tying Harvard 3-3 on Nov. 15, so it will be rested heading into the game.
Dutchwomen sophomore defenseman Maren Friday believes getting ready for RPI with exams looming won’t be a problem.
“I think being D-I athletes we just have time management, and so we’ve just got to go into that [and] be prepared,” Friday said Saturday after she scored the game-winning goal with 40.7 seconds left in the third period to give the Dutchwomen a 2-1 win over RIT. “We’ve been preparing games throughout the season. I think we’re conditioned enough and we’ve been through our systems, so I think we’ll be fine with this quick turnaround. I think really we’re just excited to have another chance at RPI and hopefully we’ll come up with a win.”
Union senior forward and team captain Emily King would have liked more rest before facing RPI. Still, she said the team will be ready.
“I think that we’re conditioned enough [and] we’re prepared enough,” King said. “We’ll do some video, we’ll practice the little details that we watched from [the] video and then have the one day of practice that we have before then. But I think we’re ready. We’re not scared. We like the challenge.”
The Dutchwomen will be looking to accomplish two things the program has never done since it became a Division I program in 2003-04. Union is looking to win its fourth straight game and extended its unbeaten streak to five.
“It’s just very exciting,” King said. “I know every year, the girls are looking to change the program. This year, we just came out hard the first few games. When we started winning, it was just very exciting for us. Just changing the program was just very exciting.”
Union lost all three games against RPI last season. The first two came after the Dutchwomen started the season with two victories at RIT. The Engineers beat the Dutchwomen 4-0 Oct. 8 at Messa Rink to snap their 39-game winless streak dating back to the 2019-20 season (RPI didn’t play in 2020-21 season due to the coronavirus pandemic). RPI then routed Union the next day 9-2 at Houston Field House The Engineers completed the sweep with a 2-0 win in the Capital Region Mayor’s Cup game Jan. 29 at MVP Arena.
“I think what we did at the Mayor’s Cup last year was telling of what we’re doing right now,” said Union assistant coach Chris Ardito, who is running the team while head coach Josh Sciba is serving as an assistant coach with Team USA for its upcoming rivalry series with Canada. “Yeah, those first two games against them last year weren’t great and they came out hot, credit to them, too. But at that time, too, we had 15 players who hadn’t played [college hockey]. Now, we have most of the team who has. We have first years that are contributing. I think we just stick to what we’re doing. It’s going to be fun.”