History repeated itself March 21 when the Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team claimed its second NCAA DIII National Championship in as many years with a 3-2 win over Elmira. The win marks the second time the Cardinals have won back-to-back national titles.
PSUC claimed the championship crown in both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, encountering three losses. The Cards also lost three times en route to NCAA titles in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, all against rival Elmira. Senior forward Shannon Stewart closes out her career with that memorable victory.
“I will never forget that just because it was Elmira,” Stewart said.
The Soaring Eagles swept the Cards at home this season, ending a home winning streak. Junior forward Giovanna Senese, who was named the tournament MVP, said the losses were heartbreaking, but it pushed them to come back for the championships. The setback pushed PSUC to avenge the losses with victories in the ECAC West and NCAA championship games. Senese chipped in both games with three goals and an assist as the Cards got their revenge.
“I think overall we fought back the whole time,” Senese said.
Before facing off with the Soaring Eagles for the NCAA title, PSUC met Norwich in a rematch of last year’s championship game. The Cadets wouldn’t go down easy, fighting their way back into the game with two unanswered goals.
Freshman forward Kayla Meneghin squashed any hopes of a Cadet comeback with an empty-net goal to close out the scoring at 5-2. Though the score may tell a different story, Meneghin said the team didn’t play their best, but was still able to get the win.
Senese echoes a similar sentiment. Senese said the Cards stood tall against the comeback attempt and did what was needed for the win.
Heading into the NCAA title game against Elmira, Senese said the team was a little calmer after the nerve-wracking semifinal.
“We had a lot to prove,” Senese said. “We wanted to play our game.”
Senese put PSUC on the board first with a shorthanded goal and later assisted on Meneghin’s eventual game-winner. Senese said she didn’t remember how her goal happened. She later watched the video, which revealed a totally different play to get the puck out than what she thought.
“All I do know is they fumbled it and we got out,” she said. “It was a lot of not thinking, just playing.”
This year marks the fourth straight year Stewart and her fellow seniors have played in the NCAA Final Four. The seniors graduate with a list of achievements that includes three straight ECAC West championships, two third-place NCAA finishes and two back-to-back NCAA championships. Going out on top in front of all the fans excites Stewart.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” Stewart said. “We had an amazing crowd, so winning at home was a really great feeling, to say the least.”
Despite a late-season slump, the Cards never quit on their goal of winning another national title.
“Coach had told us ‘That was our lowest point. From here, we can only go up,’” Meneghin said. “And that’s what we did.”
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