UWRF women's hockey team ends season with loss in NCAA Division III National Championship Game
March 30, 2016
The Falcons Women’s Hockey team capped off a memorable winter by achieving its greatest season to date. The Falcons fell 5-1 in the NCAA Division III National Championship Game to Plattsburgh State a few weeks ago, securing second place in the country. This comes on the heels of two third place finishes in the NCAA tournament in 2014 and 2015.
The team was led all season long by WIAC player of the year Chloe Kinsel. The senior finished her four seasons at UWRF as the all-time leader in goals and points scored with 83 goals and 162 points in her career, according to uwrfsports.com. This season alone Kinsel had 26 goals and 47 points overall.
Head Coach Joe Cranston had only praise for Kinsel, saying, “Ending a career in the national championship game and scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against Elmira [College] in the semifinals was a great way to cap off an amazing career.”
The Falcons went on a tear to end the season, earning their third straight WIAC regular season title and wrapping up their third straight O’Brien Cup without dropping a game in the WIAC playoffs. They carried this momentum into their first NCAA playoff game with St. Thomas and continued to roll from there.
“There were points in the season when we didn’t even know if we would make the NCAA tournament, so it was pretty special to go on the run we did and make it to the national championship game for the first time in school history,” Cranston said.
UWRF appeared in the NCAA tournament for the eighth straight year, and made their presence known in their 4-3 overtime victory against Elmira in Plattsburgh, NY. The victory put them out of the national semifinals for the first time and set up a road game against the #1 ranked Cardinals of Plattsburgh State.
Cranston said, “Every year the goal is to get better and raise the bar. Now the only way to raise the bar even further is to be as good as Plattsburgh. We’ve been the number one team in the west for four plus years, so we need to maintain that pace next year.”
The Falcons enter next season only losing two seniors with multiple players gaining important championship experience. Juniors Dani Sibley and Paige Johnson joined Senior Chloe Kinsel in being named Division III All-Americans for the 2015-2016 season.
“Most of our scoring came from three players, but I was especially impressed with how strong the rest of the team was defensively. Every player on the team worked hard and shut down the leading scorers on every other team. Every player will remember that feeling of beating Elmira and it will only help us next season.”
The Falcons finish their 2015-2016 season with a 23-6-2 overall record and a 9-3 record in the WIAC. The Falcons started slow at 2-2, but rattled off a 13-game winning streak to steadily climb the polls all season long.
Cranston was especially pleased, stating, “We knew we had the ability to do this well, but we didn’t expect this kind of result this season. But we had a great run at the end and had a great effort from every kid to make the difference.”
The Falcon women’s hockey team stood out the most in an extremely successful winter sports season for UWRF, with all four teams posting winning records and bringing home three conference titles and two NCAA tournament appearances. With the new Falcon Center set to open in 2017, the future for Falcons athletics has never looked brighter.