Captain Julia Masotta (7) chirps at Oswego’s Ashlyn McGrath during their game Nov. 3.
By Michael Purtell
Last Friday, Nov. 3, marked the first step toward championship aspirations for the Plattsburgh State Cardinals women’s hockey team. In the first contest of many, the Cards defended their home rink from the Oswego Lakers and ended the hard-fought night with a 3-1 victory.
Laker Mack Hull welcomed the Cards to the SUNYAC league with a goal 62 seconds into the season opener at Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena. The bench erupted into cheers, sticks were smacked on the walls and the Cardinal crowd was silent. Oswego was hungry to show the five-time NEWHL champions that it came to play. The Lakers were riding fiery momentum after the goal, but Plattsburgh didn’t get overwhelmed.
Shots were sent both ways as the teams battled for control of the offense, and the period ended with a 9-8 shot difference in Plattsburgh’s favor.
Soon enough, Plattsburgh answered Hull’s goal. First-year Adriana Urban got the puck on a breakaway and skillfully shot through several defenders to tie the game at 1-1 at 10:14.
The team was elated for the first-year, and senior captain Julia Masotta skated to collect the puck from the referee for Urban during her celebrations.
“At first I didn’t believe it.” Urban said, “It was kind of shocking, but a nice experience.”
Going into the tunnel for the first intermission of the night, Urban pointed to her parents in the stands.
Entering the second, the Cards pushed their offensive edge. The Lakers fought for every loose puck and bodied several Cardinals into the glass in an attempt to recapture a lead, yet only generated 6 shots to Plattsburgh’s 10.
This includes several shots which Plattsburgh was forced into coming from behind the net. Several possessions were taken behind the icing line, and Oswego was able to apply pressure and force shots into the side of the goal posts.
Early in these possessions, audience members cheered for the Cards to “shoot!” The more possessions that got sent behind the net, the more frustrated players grew.
When shots were put up by Oswego, they certainly weren’t touching Plattsburgh’s net. Senior Lilla Nease made sure of that by saving all six shots in the period.
The Lakers mirrored Nease’s success in goal, and recorded 10 saves to match Plattsburgh’s 10 shots in the second period.
The score stood at a draw, and as the time at 1-1 grew, so did the competitiveness amongst the players. The game saw more than its fair share of physical clashes, and towards the end of the period, more than one altercation ended with words exchanged between Cards and Lakers.
Heading into the second intermission, the Cardinals were straight faced. This game was intense, and Plattsburgh looked as if it had no intention of leaving with just one goal.
The third period proved the Cards’ determination was more than just a look. With 11 shots on goal, Plattsburgh scored two shots on the Oswego goal in the third period.
The game-winner came from Masotta. Su-An Cho and Ciara Wall were credited with the assists. Masotta said Wall’s penultimate pass on the play was what allowed for the finish.
Three-and-a-half minutes later, Mae Olshansky scored to bring the match to the final score of 3-1. Masotta and Wall were the supporting cast of the goal.
The game was physical, and saw nine foul calls over the 60 minutes of action. At one point, a player was hit so hard they lost a glove, and it had to be retrieved by the referee several minutes later. Masotta gave credit to the referee for allowing the game to be so competitive, without letting it get too out of hand.
Oswego ensured that Plattsburgh’s first match of the season was a tough one, and it played with an intensity many of the newcomers hadn’t yet seen on the collegiate ice.
“It’s the first game of the year, really, for us. We’ve had two exhibition games and they’ve had two real games and played against good opponents,” Head Coach Kevin Houle said. “They were a little more game-ready coming into our rink and they took the game to us. Certainly at times in the first period we had our opportunities as well but I think it was more of getting used to that pace, and that battling that we hadn’t seen thus far and we were able to turn that around as the second period wore on.”
The match was a great reminder of how talent and strength of each team has been building throughout the years. The newly-minted SUNYAC will hold plenty of tough matches that sees the Cardinals against strong competitors.
“They’re a great team, and they’ve been a team that’s improving every year. So every time we’re playing, it’s going to be a tough game.” Masotta said.
The Cardinals will travel to Morrisville this Saturday, Nov. 11 to take on the conference rival Morrisville Mustangs.