Spartans finish season against the Herons

Moa Carlsson handling the puck in the slot trying to get a scoring chance for the Spartans.

Kirsten DiCicco made a plethora of saves to keep the VTSU Castleton women’s hockey team tied with the Herons early in the opening period, but in the end the Herons proved too much and the Spartans couldn’t find the net.

The team battled William Smith Feb. 17 at The Cooler in Geneva, New York for the first round match-up in the New England Hockey Conference playoffs.

While the Spartans hammered the Herons with 38 shots, they fell 4-0, ending their 2023-2024 campaign. DiCicco fought off 35 of William Smiths 38 shots with the Spartans conceding an empty net goal trying to make one last push to battle back late in the third period.

“Obviously not the end to our year that we wanted, especially riding the high of winning five in a row coming into playoffs, including finishing the regular season with the historic first win over Elmira. Sometimes you wish you could just roll into the playoffs and take no days off, but you have to find a way to keep that energy and momentum throughout the next week of practice and heading into the tournament,” said head coach Tim McAuliffe. “I thought we did a pretty good job of that, but this year it’s no secret that scoring for us has been feast or famine, and unfortunately Saturday at William Smith was the latter. I thought the effort was excellent and our team played until the final buzzer, but it always stings when the season ends so abruptly.”

The game started off tame as Castleton and William Smith found themselves at a deadlock after 17 minutes. Then after a flurry of saves from DiCicco, the Herons put in the fourth rebound shot and the Spartans found themselves down 1-0 with two minutes remaining in the opening period then went into intermission with a one goal deficit.

Coming out in the second, Castleton seemed like they had come alive and were dominating the play after the Herons scored a quick one merely two minutes into the second frame. The Spartans began to put on an onslaught of shots on the William Smith netminder.

Although down by two going into the third, it seemed like Castleton had all of the momentum they needed to make a comeback against the team they beat 4-1 just a week prior. The Spartans continued to pepper the Herons goalie with shots, but nothing was getting through.

Castleton continued to battle to get back into the game until William Smith potted its third goal with just under three minutes remaining. The Spartans final push came when they got on the power play shortly after the Herons third goal and in the final effort to get within reach, they gave up an empty net goal on a clear from William Smiths own defensive zone.

Although Castleton’s season ended, the Spartans had a handful of bright spots for the year.

Three members of the team were recognized on the NEHC all-conference teams.

Moa Carlsson landed on Second Team All-NEHC after posting 13 goals with 19 points. Katie Campoli earned Third Team honors in her graduate year with two goals and six assists with 23 blocked shots, and DiCicco earned herself another All-Conference honor landing on Third Team while also cementing herself in the program history books becoming the leader in shutouts with 12.

“Seeing this program evolve during my time here has been unreal and having it all culminate in back-to-back sweeps and our first ever win against Elmira on Senior Day to end the season was like the cherry on top. I am excited to see what the future holds for this program! Being named to the third all-conference team is such an honor. I pushed through adversity, injuries, and self-doubt throughout this season and battled to leave my mark in my final year, so it is always special to receive an honor like this that rewards all of that hard work and dedication,” DiCicco said.

Both DiCicco and Campoli finished their final season as a Spartan leaving a mark that can be remembered.

“I felt honored to be able to be named to one of the all-conference teams along with my teammate Kirsten and several other talented players in the NEHC. I am proud of what we both have achieved in our college careers, and I personally feel like I can end my college career knowing that I 

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