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By Matt McDonald
With less than one minute remaining in the 2015 Women’s Division III Ice Hockey National Championship game, Elmira College launched the barrage. Soaring Eagles players slapped shot after shot into the Plattsburgh defense, desperate to force overtime. But when the season’s final buzzer sounded, and the crowd in the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena roared, the red and white were still on top.
The 3-2 victory gave Plattsburgh its second consecutive national championship and fourth in program history – more than any other school in women’s D-III hockey.
“This has been a great program from the minute I stepped on campus...These young ladies are fun to watch”
– Bruce Delventhal, Director of Athletics
“This has been a great program from the minute I stepped on campus,” said Plattsburgh athletic director Bruce Delventhal. “I have nothing but great pride in what they’ve been able to accomplish. These young ladies are fun to watch.”
The title game was as good as rubber matches get. It was the fifth meeting between Plattsburgh and Elmira this season, with the two teams splitting the first four games. After an early season loss to the Cards, Elmira won back-to-back games in Stafford Arena (Jan. 31 and Feb. 1) to claim the number one national ranking. Plattsburgh slipped to number two until they defeated the Soaring Eagles 4-0 in the ECAC championship game on March 8. The conference championship gave them the top seed in the national tournament.
The losses to each other were each teams’ only setbacks of the season.
“Going in knowing who we were playing and beating an in-conference team in the championship game was special,” said Assistant Women’s Hockey Coach Danielle Blanchard. “Our players continuously worked hard to get back to this point.”
“Whenever we play Elmira, it’s almost always a tight game,” Head Coach Kevin Houle, five-time American Hockey Coaches Association Coach of the Year, told the Press-Republican newspaper. “It was certainly sweet to be able to hang on and win the title here at home.”
In addition to the national title, Plattsburgh took home several individual honors. Houle was this year’s runner-up for AHCA Coach of the Year, while junior forward Geovanna Senese, who opened the scoring in the championship game with a breakaway goal, was named tournament MVP.
Three Cardinals were named AHCA/CCM All-Americans: senior Alyssa Parke (first team), Kayla Meneghin (second team) and Shannon Stewart (second team).
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